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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Today’s entry is going to be short. The warm-up again included a graphing exercise that required the construction of a bar graph this time. I don’t think one student was wrong on it. There was also a problem where they had to read two graduated cylinders with a liquid inside both and calculate the combined amount. I am happy that turned out well since I spent a good bit of time creating that clipart myself. I know that there is a ton of stuff on the internet but I really prefer to use my own.

I continued reading aloud the short story, The Legacy. As soon as I finish it I will read The Upstairs Room.
The students also had time to work on their choice menu items while I was doing DIBELS. I have so far covered about 1/3 of the class for the reading fluency portion of it and I expect that to be completed by the end of the week. Next week will focus on the reading part where they do a written response. As tedious as DIBELS can be, it is very useful.

In math, we continued with the reading of liquid capacity and I think that I will not be spending anymore class time with that! The class has mastered it totally! I then had them do another graph construction activity.

We also did science with plants.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I see from the visit counter that the number has surpassed 1600 hits from this page alone. That is just 1601 (as I type this) since I got the gumption to insert the html widget since I was curious to see how often this site is visited. Can we hit 2,000 by the end of the year? That would be awesome!!!

Today we began something and ended something. DIBELS began with the first few students and we ended the read aloud book Test of the Twins. I did read aloud a short story later on called The Legacy which takes place about 25 years after the events of Test of the Twins. It is a story whose events serve as a prelude to Dragons of Summer Flame, which I will not be reading as I have mentioned before.

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The next book that we are doing for the read aloud is titled The Upstairs Room. This book is an autobiography about the author’s childhood in Holland during the Holocaust of World War 2. Since she is Jewish, her family had to go into hiding. She and her older sister were given refuge by a family of farmers who risked their lives to hide them. The 1972 book (and Newbery Award winner) is her story of the three years that were spent in hiding.

The warm-up had a tough one for a lot of the class. It involved using the distributive property to solve an equation and then figure out which pattern the answer would fit in. The answer was 26 but the problem was that none of the patterns actually started at 26. The only one that worked was the one where the pattern began with 78, which is 26 times 3.

Instead of the choice menu items today, I had them do the Interpretation of Data activity. Originally, the class was divided into five different groups but unfortunately, the noise level and the amount of off-task behavior was too much so it changed to individual work. They were to choose any character (other than Raistlin) from any of the read aloud books from this year. Tomorrow morning the work will go up on the bulletin board in the hallway.

In math, we focused on measurement: mass and of liquids in cylinders and reading the amounts. It isn’t as easy as it may seem since not all of the graduations are marked. Still, the class did a good job on it! Tomorrow will still have that in addition to going over data.

I have found out that End-of-Grade testing will begin for us on Friday, May 23rd in reading. We will administer the math on Tuesday, May 27th. This is not a CMS nor is a school decision but instead a state directive. However, I am still confident in the students in my class and I don’t think taking it a few days earlier will make that much of a difference. If I learn of anything new, I will of course post it. The calendars on both the wiki and the mobile app have been changed to reflect it.

Thanks to the parents who have responded to the tech survey. I received some great feedback and I appreciate the suggestions too! One concern was that this page is slow to load. That is understandable since there is a lot of stuff on it going back to the first day of school. I think an archive page would be better. I think it is a bit late in the year to do this but it is something that I will do next year.

One of the things I am also looking at is going over to a different host for my web page. While I like Wikispaces, it is limiting. I am in search of something just as user friendly yet very customizable.

Another change for next year: I am going to suck it up and spend the money to be an Apple developer. While it does cost something, if it will be convenient enough for more people to download my app and stay informed then it will be well worth it. Right now, anyone with an Apple device has to go to Appcatch.com and download it. While it is easy enough for me due to the virtue of doing it enough times, it isn’t always easy for others. Besides, if my app is listed on the App Store, it will make it so much easier for others with iPads/pods and iPhones to download. No changes are planned for Android devices since the Play Store has been successful. The only people who will still need to go to Appcatch are those with Blackberry and Windows devices unless I can get hosted there too.

The warm-up involved the construction of a line graph and yet I still caught a few too many trying to make a bar graph. So, that will give me something to focus on this week along with getting some additional work in algebra and measurement. They should not be surprised to find something similar on tomorrow’s warm-up.

For the read aloud, we are getting to the end of Test of the Twins. I am very confident that we will finish it by tomorrow so a stop-gap read-aloud will be determined this evening when I get home.

For literacy, a new choice menu was given out. It no longer involves anything other than paper but still allows for creativity.

We also began the DIBELS assessment. Tomorrow it will go full swing and I will do my best to balance getting it accomplished with not losing instructional time. My class has been pretty good about being self-directed so I am not worried.

Tomorrow, the class will be divided into groups and doing an Interpretation of Data activity. Below is the choice menu:

New Literacy choice meu.png

Test - create a test based on the story Product – design a detailed product (like a toy, for example) based on the story Game – design any kind of game based on the story with detailed instructions Character Study – create a bubble map of a chosen character and describe it as much as possible Data – create an Interpretation of Data activity based on a character Math – design 3-5 story problems based on the story.

I am looking forward to seeing yet again what kind of awesomeness is going to be produced by my class! In math, we did a review. Tomorrow we will focus more in-depth on algebra. Then we will cover graphing some more followed by measurement.

I have sent out next week’s homework assignment. There will be two more and then no more. I have also sent out a survey concerning my wiki and app. Thanks for the feedback!

Today’s warm-up was a nice review of what we can hopefully expect on the test.

In literacy, I decided to just do the DIBELS next week so we can start fresh.

I continued reading aloud Test of the Twins and we are making a lot of progress on the book. It is possible that we will be finished next week and then we move on.

In math, we used the tech devices to do the online quiz that is embedded in the wiki page (Launch Page).

We also had an EOG pep rally from 2:00 to 2:30. The Panthers’ Sir Purr was there and it was LOUD.

Afterwards, I did a different kind of activity for literacy. It is called an Interpretation of Data and it requires a lot of higher level thinking. I chose a character from our read-aloud series (Raistlin). The class came up with a description of him. Then, we took some descriptors and went backwards by figuring out the causes of it. Then, we took another step backwards to determine the causes of THAT. We also went ahead by predicting the outcomes. I love it!

Below is a screen capture of today's activity.

Taba Lesson.png

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It is so nice to be back to normal! We have our computers back with Windows 7 installed and I have to say that it makes a great difference! Plus, my printer is now working again! I imagine that a lot of issues will be cleared up with the upgrade.

I have created a short survey for parents concerning technology. Please go to the link and take a few moments to fill it out. I really appreciate honest (and anonymous) feedback that is helpful.

I will have a parent satisfaction survey that will go out in early June before the school year ends. It is going to be the same survey that I used last year at Olde Providence but I will tweak it a bit.
Now that I have a working printer again, I am able to print out the warm-up assignments again. Today’s warm-up had a pictograph construction problem, a compound problem (one story, two problems to solve), distributive property, and so on.

With the read-aloud, we are now on the final book of the Legends Trilogy, Test of the Twins. I imagine that it won’t be long until that is finished and then we do a few stop-gap books to finish up the year.
In literacy, we continued with the choice menu and this will be the end of it in its current form. Why? Oh, there is test prep and all of that fun stuff associated with it. So, while I will still have the choice menu, it will not involve constructing models and such.

Also, the final DIBELS window has opened and I have decided to wait until tomorrow for all of that to begin. We will start with the final DAZE assessment which is a timed activity in which students read a passage and at different parts of the passage, the reader has to choose the most appropriate word from three choices. For example, I went to the (restaurant, store, school) and ordered the vegetable platter with a tea to drink. The most appropriate answer would be restaurant since the rest of the text implies that food was ordered. Of course, that was a very simple example but you get the idea. The students are given a three minute time limit.

Monday is when I will do the rest. I am going to try to do a few students per day during literacy rather than have math disrupted trying to get it all in.

Today the reading comprehension mock EOG test was administered. Also, the computers were off limits for most of the day. The reason for that is because today was the day that Barringer was scheduled to have all of its computers switched over from Windows XP to Windows 7. We finally received the all-clear to use our computers again just minutes before specials. So, tomorrow we will have the morning work again in the normal format.

Also, I have been working on next week's math homework. It too will be available online since that works out very well. If you are in need of a hard copy, please let me know by Friday so I can make arrangements. Besides, I still have three more questions to create before it goes live so there is time.

Speaking of Friday, I am planning on that day being a Tech Day so please allow your child to bring his/her device if you are so inclined. I will be sending out a reminder via Twitter, email, text message blast, and a message on the mobile app.

I am also going to be setting up a survey on Friday concerning my use of technology. Please take a few moments to fill it out and give feedback since I would like to continuously improve both the wiki and the app.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today there was no math warm-up due to the mock EOG test in math. The students did have the Junior Achievement post-test which just goes over stuff that they learned. Then I had them read quietly, sharpen their pencils, and use the restroom. This is important! It is crucial for students to at least try to go to the restroom in the morning before testing begins. To have to leave the room for a restroom break is only permitted for emergencies since it can be disruptive.

I also stressed the fact that it is very important to take one’s time and to pace one’s self. Those who finish early are not permitted to read nor draw.

There are a few differences though between this test and the real EOG next month.

1) No proctors are in the rooms

2) Everyone has the same test with the same questions in the same order

3) Everyone has the same test form

4) If we break for recess and lunch, we can resume it later on

Tomorrow will be the reading comprehension test.

After lunch, we did some literacy since the whole morning was spent on math. There was the time after lunch and the time after specials. This is definitely not the normal schedule and tomorrow will be the same way. Well, as I had mentioned before, March was the last “normal” month of the school year with April having spring break and May being the crunch time for test prep, Memorial Day, and the tests themselves.

Afterwards, the class went to the music room for a presentation on China instead of science lab. Tomorrow, as far as I know, they will have PE.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Welcome back! For my first day back I was greeted with a nonworking printer. Isn’t it interesting how equipment that works just fine on a Friday will be messed up on Monday? I mean, what goes on during those times when I am not at school? Are there little gremlins that invade the system and wreak havoc in cyberspace?
This is the only gremlin I used to believe in but now I am not so sure…..

1974 gremlin.jpg

Today from here on out the focus, for better or for worse, is now on the upcoming tests in one month. Tomorrow and Wednesday we will be conducting mock EOG tests to prepare the students for testing and to build stamina. I will be going over test taking strategies today and reviewing some concepts. The biggest problem year after year is that too many students will rush through the test as if there is some kind of grand prize for finishing first. Guess what? The prize is that the “winner” gets to spend the next X amount of hours sitting there in sheer boredom while the more conscientious peers are pacing themselves. Good times!

Today’s warm-up was more on content and had fewer graphics than previous warm-up assignments. I am trying to review as much as possible in as wide a range as possible so space-taking graphics will have to make way for more content.

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins. After ten days between readings, I had to review what had happened up to where we left off but once I got started it didn’t take long at all for the class to remember.

In literacy, the focus is now more on reading comprehension though I didn’t want to do too much on the first day back from spring break.

After that, the students were able to continue with their own self-directed mini-projects from the choice menu.

In math, I covered measurement and data (measuring liquid volume and mass) by having the students determine which the most reasonable measurement for a given object is. For example, there is a continuum of weights: grams, ounces, kilograms, tons and they go from light to heavy. A student desk would be weighed in kilograms while a pad of paper would be weighed in grams or ounces. A car would be weighed in tons.

Lastly, with us now being in a test preparation mode I am no longer going to be doing spelling words for the rest of the year. We have one month left until the big tests and after that is about a week and a half of instructional days that remain. The time after testing is for make-up tests (those who are absent), field days, and other various activities that will be coming that I don’t know about as of yet.

The EOG tests will be Wednesday, May 28th and Thursday, May 29th. I am not sure which test will be administered on which day but as soon as I find anything out I will be sure to post it. What I do know is that both math tests (calculator and non-calculator) will be on the same day rather than split into two separate testing sessions. The reasoning for that the testing will occur right after Memorial Day weekend so having it on Tuesday right after a three day weekend will not be a good idea. Also, the 5th graders will be taking the science EOG. That is what I know and if/when I learn anymore I will be sure to pass along the information.

Wednesday, April 08 and Thursday, April 09, 2014

I was out Wednesday for dental work and yesterday was a required workshop for TD language arts.

Friday, April 11, 2014

There is nothing like returning after being out for two days. There is definitely nothing like returning for the Friday before spring break. Yet, it is good to be back. Though the workshop got out about an hour and a half earlier than I would during a normal day of teaching, I prefer to be here.

I added a critical thinking question in the form of a logical fallacy (error in logic) for the warm-up. It is more for getting their thoughts and reasoning than anything else since math requires critical thinking. The fallacy in logic that I used is called Composition in which it is assumed that what is true for a part of something must therefore be true of the whole, which isn’t always the case. An example of it would be saying that the human body is made up of mostly water. Water is colorless. Therefore, the human body must be mostly colorless.

We also continued with the read aloud of War of the Twins.

Since today is Friday, we had specials (computer lab) from 10:10-10:55. However, computer lab had to be cut short to fit in one more Junior Achievement lesson on news and media. After specials we did not switch for science and social studies this time. I used this time to administer the spelling test and have them do some independent reading until recess and lunch.

After lunch we went straight to math since Hive Time was cancelled for today as well. Today being a Tech Time day I had the math test embedded within my wiki page (launch) just like the homework.

What I really like about using Google Forms for assignments is that I can view the responses as a spreadsheet. The key is to do it first and type in “Answer Key” where one enters a name and then fill in the correct responses. Why oh why did I not know about this sooner???

After that, we had the ICMM (I Can Manage Myself) dance or movie. When that was over, I had them straighten up the room that they are so good as messing up.

Have a happy, safe, and restful spring break! When we return the following Monday, it will be the month long countdown to the EOG’s. Math will be a mixture of review, going deeper, and learning anything that hasn’t been covered yet (which isn’t much).

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I decided to make today’s math warm-up activity based more on constructing graphs. There are five problems and two of them involve the construction of a bar graph and a pictograph. One of them requires averaging since it uses addition and division and the others are algebra-based (variable and distributive property).

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins and am beginning to contemplate the next series for reading aloud. Perhaps Narnia? There is plenty of time to think about it but I am sure that I won’t have that much time either with the year coming to a close.

Today’s literacy focus was more on reading comprehension since that is a necessity. Tomorrow will be the same way. I will not be here Thursday (nor Ms. Allen) due to a Talent Development day-long workshop. I do have an actual substitute lined up for Thursday.

At 11:00 we switched for science and social studies.

Since we are in the fourth and final quarter of the year the focus switches to the life sciences. We are doing ecosystems with an emphasis on plant life.

I showed the following video for science to introduce the students to some of the major ideas such as plant parts, plant reproduction, photosynthesis, adaptation, etc. Afterwards there was only enough time remaining for a brief review activity so I decided to create a short crossword puzzle. Tomorrow will be more in depth since today was more of an introduction.

In math, we continued with the distributive property. One way of expressing it in general is this: a(b+c) = (ab)+(bc). Whenever a number or variable is next to parentheses it means to multiply. Whenever a number is next to a variable and/or two variables are next to each other (for example 2a and ab) it also means to multiply.

A more third grade example is: 2(4+5) = (2x4) + (2x5) = 8 + 10 = 18. OR 2(4+5) = 2(9) = 18. All this does is break multiplication down to show the relationships between the numbers. It is also useful in preparing for more advanced math in which one has to use the order of operations to solve more complex problems.

Reminder: Friday is a tech day so please have your child bring his/her device if this is possible.

Monday, April 07, 2014

As we begin the countdown to spring break, I am still determined to keep up with the learning and engagement as much as possible. Today’s warm-up is no exception

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins and we are actually about halfway through the whole trilogy and ¾ of the way through the entire six book series.
We also continued working on the choice menu mini projects before devoting about 30 minutes to independent reading.

In math, I went over the distributive property since there will undoubtedly be some questions pertaining to that on the test at the end of next month. Whoa! It seems strange that I am typing the words “next month” in conjunction with The Test but that is definitely the case.

What we went over was taking an expression and using the distributive property to solve it.

For example: If I have 3 x (5 + 3) it results in (3x5) + (3x3) to equal 24. There really isn’t much to it but there very well could be problems such as “Which expression could be used to solve blah blah blah?”

Tomorrow and Wednesday will be more reading comprehension focused. Thursday will be less so and Friday will be reading comprehension on-line.

This is just a reminder to have your child bring his/her device (if allowed to do so) on Friday.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hopefully everyone has received and read the email that I had sent out yesterday with next week’s homework and spelling words. I wanted to use Google Forms and I really enjoyed using it. There is still a lot to learn with this (as with everything) so as I learn more it will be more versatile.

Today’s warm-up was a little shorter in length since the first problem dealt with liquid capacities in beakers. I used an example in the released test item document from the state. Both had to be read and then the numbers added up. Another one that took up a lot of space was also based on the released test items and involved the use of alternate methods of solving. I like those kind of problems!

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins until the class went to specials (computer lab). Since MAP testing is still in progress, Ms. McCoy came to my room to conduct class while I worked on the final touch-ups for today’s math activity.

After computer lab, I allowed them independent reading time until I took over and continued reading aloud. Then we went outside.

After lunch, Hive Time that normally was in place was cancelled for today. So, I allowed the class to work on their choice menu projects. Next week they will need to go home so you can be impressed by what your child has created. I know that I am! J In math, we did the check book activity. This was the culmination of all of the work that was put into making the checkbooks. Students were given the assignment and two mock paychecks. The assignment gave them instructions on what bills to pay, to whom they were made out, how much, and what for.

When the paychecks were deposited, each check was written and the transaction was recorded in the register. Students had to make sure that their accounting was accurate. I am sending this home so you can see how well they did. Please keep the checkbooks at home until after spring break so they can be used for a future homework assignment.

Next week is the week before spring break so I am going to do my best to keep the class as busy and engaged as possible. Next Friday will be a tech day so please have your child bring his/her device.

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

I don’t know about you but this weather is impossible to complain about and that is just the way I like it! I don’t think we could have asked for anything better. With spring break only six instructional days away, I am finding that the students are more than ready and I imagine the teachers are too though I can only speak for myself when I say that I am more focused on the here and now.

I am continuing to use the morning work for a threefold purpose. One, it is used to keep skills fresh. Two, it is something for the students to do that is engaging and worthwhile. Three, new things can be taught in an easy fashion so it makes my math time more efficient.

The new thing the students were exposed to today is the symbol ∴, which means “therefore.”

I am using it now in the morning work for explanations, especially in algebra, to save space and also to expose them to more mathematical and logical symbols for later. As an example, I can write the equation: 3 + s = 17. The students know that the English translation is, “Three plus and unknown number, represented as s, is equal to 17.” Three plus what is equal to 17? The students also know to use inverse operations (opposite) to solve it. 17-3 =14, 3 + 14=17, therefore s=14. Or, they will write it as, “17-3 =14, 3 + 14=17, ∴s=14.”

We continued with the read aloud for Time of the Twins and finished the book. So, we began reading War of the Twins.

I also gave them more time today to do independent reading. With the tests coming up, students will need to build reading stamina for hours of testing. Plus, TD students benefit from more independent reading.

In math, I went over the basics of check writing and how to use the register. Instead of having them use their checkbooks that they made (that is for tomorrow) I passed out sample checks for them to write. I did the same with the check register. Tomorrow’s activity in math will be solely devoted to check writing, bill paying, paychecks, etc. Each student will get two mock paychecks and a series of bills that have to be paid. Checks will need to be written properly and each transaction recorded in the check register.

Below is a sample check written to a fictitious company:

Sample Check.png

Lastly, next week’s homework assignment has been posted with a big difference. It is embedded in my wiki page (homework)and students do it online. There is also the option of doing it using the mobile app. If you need a printed copy, please let me know as soon as possible. This is my first attempt using Google Forms which is a part of Google Drive that CMS is transitioning towards. I have to say that I like it!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

I wanted to take a break from the check books and get back to a more regular schedule today since MAP testing is over for us. As I had mentioned before, my class was using the iPads as a pilot to see how well students did with testing on tablets vs. the computer lab. Monday’s session went fairly smoothly but yesterday’s had a lot of issues. The reality is that testing is moving in this direction so it gives us a good idea of what issues can be anticipated.

One issue is that when students are testing in both the computer lab as well as using the iPads, it tends to slow down the internet connection speed. That is going to have to be resolved. Another issue is that some of the iPads simply were not connecting to the wifi network while others were not responding to students’ commands such as “Next” to give an example. This will be interesting in the next several years as we transition towards online testing.

However, this year’s test will be the paper and pencil, multiple choice that students have used for years. The only difference is that the tests are more aligned to the Common Core standards. Tried and true testing strategies are still valid only now I am trying to prepare my students for reasonableness of answer choices, best answer choices out of what is given instead of simply the correct answer, etc. Of course, there will still be questions where the student will bubble in the only correct answer too.
And yet, I do want to reiterate that I don’t focus solely on testing though it will become more urgent the closer we get. I still want my focus to be on teaching and extending what has been taught.

Today’s warm-up was like the other two this week in the sense that I took released test questions and altered them a bit.

We also continued with reading aloud Time of the Twins which is book four of the Dragon Lance series.

In literacy, students resumed working on independent activities after we did a reading practice activity.

In math, we took a break from the checking activities and I spend today reviewing adding fractions with unlike denominators and then went over multiplying fractions.

Tomorrow I will go over how to do checks and how to fill out/reconcile the checkbook register. Friday will be the big activity with the checkbooks.
My plan for next week is to go over the distributive property in multiplication. After spring break, I would like to go over measurement and then review/extend for the next month. If any skills need to be reviewed I can do that with the warm-up and then do more review after checking the warm-up.

Once we are finished with the tests (week of Memorial Day) there isn’t much time left but I want to spend the instructional days (minus Field Day and other year-end activities) preparing for 4th grade.

The first order of business in preparing for 4th grade is making sure that all of the third grade content has been mastered. The last thing I want to hear from the 4th grade team is how my students are deficient somewhere. Once that has been satisfied, I will do 4th grade material.

Science is moving now towards biology and ecosystems.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

When I turned on my Smart Board this morning I noticed a blue tint to everything and unfortunately that isn’t an April Fool joke. Speaking of April Fool, Thinkgeek.com has some hilarious products to celebrate today. I thought the Rosetta Stone software to learn Klingon was cool but this one is my favorite:http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/1ba3/?pfm=af14_homepage_Featured_1_1ba3

I didn’t read as much from Time of the Twins this morning since I had to do MAP testing in math early on. Today was day 2 of using the iPads and there were a lot of issues that I would sooner not want to think about. Fortunately, that is all for the MAP testing but DIBELS: the Final Round is coming up. As soon as that window opens, I will be doing only a few students each day to spread it out.

In math, we continued working on the checkbooks and tomorrow they will be finished. I put on an initial layer of rubber cement to keep them together but another layer will be needed. Tomorrow we will be doing an activity on checking but I do not want them to use their checks until Friday where they will going all out. They will be given two paychecks from a fictitious employer and a list of bills (and whom they are made out to). The assignment will be to “pay” the bills, record them in their checkbook registers, and then make sure that they have enough for other expenses. The list will by no means be exhaustive in terms of monthly expenses. It will be a list of bills paid by check.

I know that this seems a bit old fashioned but it is still a good skill to learn and it does incorporate a lot of math in it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

This marks the last (hopefully) make-up day from earlier when we had those snow days. Today is also the last day of March which is usually the seemingly longest month of the year. Today also marks the last day of the final “normal” month of this school year. April will have spring break and May will be a whirlwind of test prep (sorry!), Memorial Day, one last day of test preparations, and then testing. The rest of the time will be devoted to make-up testing, retesting those who didn’t pass the first round, and all of the other end-of-the-year activities.

Depending on how well my students will have done on the tests, I plan on extending curriculum and preparing for 4th grade TD class. Please be assured that I will not spend the school days post-EOG on watching movies and other time-wasting nonsense. With the exception of the last two days of school, we are still in learning mode to the end albeit on a more relaxed pace.

Of course, this is only the beginning of the 4th quarter and we have nine more school days until spring break so there is a lot of instruction left before I even can begin to think about summer! Back to reality……

Today’s warm-up was based more on released test items from the state but I changed them around to make them a little more challenging for some.

Today was devoted to two things: MAP testing in reading and the checkbook activity. I am one of the teachers who is doing the MAP tests using the iPads rather than the computer lab. The reasoning behind this is twofold. First, with one class in the computer lab another class can be taking the same tests on the iPads thus getting it completed quicker. Secondly, testing is moving in the direction of tablets and/or laptops so this helps students prepare for it.

I suppose there is a third purpose and that is for those of us who are doing the iPads to work out any problems that may arise with the tablets.

I read aloud more from Time of the Twins.

Today we also began our unit in math on finance. This will be a unit in the sense that the theme in math will be more finance-based and on using more “real world” skills but I will still be covering other content too. So, some days the students will use their checks and some days they won’t.

What we did today was actually create their checkbooks. I made up a fictional bank called The Bank of Plum Creek, which is a literary reference/joke from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Get it? Ha ha ha

The students received their handouts and I showed them step-by-step on cutting them out, and the order in which everything was placed. This was also a good practice in following instructions and listening since I no one was going to get a replacement set if they were not listening. Each student received 13 printed sheets plus construction paper to make their checkbook cover so simply giving students another set was out of the question if they messed up.

There was a lot of cutting, stapling, and pasting but the end result was a realistic-looking checkbook complete with a register. My reasoning behind this is that in order to prepare students for real world situations, it is best to be as real as possible. Besides, my class loves to make things so that too helped.

Later on, I did a mini-lesson on how to write checks and use the register. We did not get to writing checks today since I wanted to get them ready. Tomorrow we will be doing an activity that involves check writing, bill paying, and reconciling the check register. This will be done with calculators to speed up computation.

Below is a rough copy of the handouts. While I did create a back side of the checks with a section for endorsement, I am still working on sizing and alignment so that when it prints, it will print true. This is more of a prototype since I am still working on it.

The math homework is in the Singapore Math book:
3B: pages 78-82
4A: pages 88-92

Friday, March 28, 2014

Today I did manage to bring my flash drives so things are more or less normal. Of course, today was 3rd grade’s full day planning so normality sort of went out of the window. Ms. White covered my class and I did leave her a set of detailed instructions and schedule.

Thus being stated, this entry is going to be short since I was not here for most of the day. I am leaving planning at 3:00 to host Science Olympiad students while everyone else goes to clubs.

I am not doing spelling words next week and the homework will be assigned on Monday.

Thursday, March 27th 2014

Good news! I left my flash drives at home and now I had to spend the morning doing everything from scratch. Yippee!!! However, it was a good chance to use Google Drive since that is what CMS is wanting everyone to switch to. It does make sense. Even an older version of a commercial office software suite costs something while this costs nothing.

The only hiccup that I have encountered is that copying and pasting is an issue. I created the warm-up but when I copied it to the document, the formatting was way off. So, I have a lot to learn. A foreseeable problem is that everything is cloud-based so if the internet is down, so is everything else. I suppose there is one other very minor issue and that is the typical font I use for this blog (Century Gothic) is not available. Oh well. Why do I use Century Gothic and not Times New Roman or Arial? I read somewhere a few years back that using Century Gothic takes less ink so toner/ink cartridges will last longer.

Lesson to learn: have a back-up plan.

One difference that I have noticed is that Docs gives me the option of embedding html code into my wiki page.

The warm-up this morning, as I had mentioned above is in a different format. Instead of having two columns there is only one. I am still learning Google Docs so the kids will have to bear with me. There are no graphics on today’s warm-up for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want to take the time figuring it out and fighting with it and; 2) None of the problems required graphics.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Time of the Twins and then gave the students time to work on their choice menu projects (without the choice menu). At 10:15 Ms. Halso came in for the second day of Junior Achievement.

In science, we continued with data and graphing. Today’s add-on assignment was to take the existing chart with the planetary data and choose one measurable data point (size, distance from the sun, mean temperature, etc.). They were to then create a bar graph to picture the data for each of the eight planets.

In math, we continued with adding fractions with unlike denominators. I will do some subtraction but nothing that amounts to regrouping. If I had a horrific time trying to teach reasonably bright 5th graders that concept, I don’t even want to think about tackling it with my 3rd graders until testing is over with. I still have a lot of reviewing to do and I want to cover units of measurement with capacities.

I can’t say enough about how successful yesterday’s Data Quest went in addition to the prior ones. All of us really enjoyed doing it and the students were engaged, on-task, and focused.

Think of this: your child was sent out with a small group to a location elsewhere on school grounds to do an independent problem solving activity with little or no assistance. They went out, did what they had to do, and then returned.

One group went to Ms. Jones’ office to measure the inside perimeter to calculate the area and then determine if the area was sufficient. But, there were problems that had to be overcome and Ms. Jones told me that she was impressed with how they reasoned (ok, argued) with each other about the proper course of action.

I am planning on doing more of this but I want to have something different. Either I will come up with something or I will have groups of students design something similar to what we have done as long as it is both different and do-able. I don’t want it to be too difficult for the average group.

After specials, my class went to Ms. Allen’s room for the remainder of the day (3:25-4:00) while I held Science Olympiad in my room.

Reminders:

1) Tomorrow the math homework is due

2) The spelling test is tomorrow and the students will be getting new words tomorrow

3) I will be in all day planning with the rest of the third grade tomorrow and Ms. White will be in her subbing for me. She will administer the spelling test and run the class. I will be checking in throughout the day but I doubt that she will be in any need of assistance. The class will have their assignments and will be busy. I will be leaving planning early (at 3:00) to do science Olympiad.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maybe by this time next week nature will have gotten the hint that this is supposed to be spring time and that winter is passé. We can only hope!

Today’s warm-up activity had five problems but the first one took up the entire left half of the page. It had a chart comparing three individuals and then a blank Venn Diagram below that needed to be filled in. The next two involved fractions both adding and finding a location on a number line. The last one was algebra in nature.

We also continued with Time of the Twins for the read aloud portion of our time.
In literacy, the students worked on their choice menu options until 11:00 which is when we switched for science and social studies.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class was given time to continue working on their quadruple Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast their four chosen planets. For the second half of the class, I went over pictographs and how they are useful to represent data. I surveyed the class for their favorite planets and showed how to create a pictograph to reflect the data. Below is a combination of two screens. The top shows the tally marks to indicate favorite color and the bottom shows the data interpreted as a pictograph with a yellow star to indicate one vote.

Wednesday Science.png

I had mentioned yesterday that we were setting aside fractions for today to do something different. Today’s focus in math was on hands-on data gathering and then using the data to determine area, perimeter, and/or volume depending upon the assignment. Students then had to evaluate whether or not their data meets the criteria established in their assignments.

Today the students in the class took on the roles of imaginary counter-espionage operatives against “the enemy.” There are six different scenarios but four were chosen for practicality.

The class was randomly split into four different groups and each group was given their scenario. Then, they were given the necessary tools (rulers, meter sticks, meter wheels, etc) and sent out on their missions. Once they had their measurements (data), they were to return to the classroom to complete their work and debrief. Below is a .pdf file with the different scenarios.

Before being sent off on their missions, I showed them how to use a meter trundle wheel. Basically, it is a wheel that makes a clicking sound every time it covers the distance of one meter when rolled.

I also showed one group how to use my digital tape measure which uses a laser to point and sound waves to calculate distance in either metric or standard units of measurement. It has been used by construction workers and surveyors for years.

images.jpg

Tomorrow we will resume with fractions. All-in-all, this was a very successful lesson/activity and I definitely need to do more of them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thanks to the parents who came to last night’s first annual Math Madness. I had quite a turnout too! I did have some third graders coming to my room but I had a lot more second and even first graders trying their hand at operations and algebra. A lot of them enjoyed self-checking with the black light too. This gives me a good idea of what I can expect next year and if the kids who showed up are any indication, I am going to be challenged myself in keeping THEM challenged! Good! I look forward to it.

For some odd reason I have rekindled my interest in retro video games. Do you remember Space Invaders and other games on the Atari system back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s? Despite their being primitive in comparison with games now available, they are still highly enjoyable to kids so the final question in today’s warm-up was a tribute to the old games…….may they never go away. I also have a page on my wiki (games) that has old games such as Joust, Frogger, Tron (the light cycles game), Galaga, etc.

We continued reading aloud Time of the Twins. The story does start out slower than it did with the first trilogy but it will get more interesting.

The students also had more time to work on their choice menu activities too.

At 11:00 my class went to Ms. Allen’s for social studies to do whatever it is that they do. Meanwhile, Ms. Allen’s class came to me for science and this is what we did:
This week’s focus is going to remain with astronomy but the emphasis will shift more towards integrating math, which is a fundamental part of science. Today’s focus was on analyzing data with comparing and contrasting in a visual sense.

We reviewed Venn Diagrams by choosing three students in the class at random. We filled in the Venn Diagram accordingly. Now for the challenge: I introduced the class to a QUADRUPLE Venn Diagram. This is more complicated since there are four data sets that are to be compared and contrasted. I showed them a sample and we did a brief activity so I can model for them what is to be expected for the independent work.

Basically, a quadruple Venn Diagram is made up of four ellipses instead of four circles but the idea is the same. Below is an example of the one we filled out using four randomly chosen students in the class. Their names have been covered up for privacy.

Tuesday Science.png

The activity: each student was given a copy of a solar system fact sheet and a blank quadruple Venn Diagram. They had to choose any four of the eight planets in our solar system (sorry Pluto!) and fill in the diagram looking at what they had in common and what made them different.

In math, we continued with adding fractions with unlike denominators. I am still debating within myself as to whether or not to cover subtracting fractions that involve regrouping. I do want to continue to challenge my students but this is not covered until at least 5th grade (or middle school). We still need to cover capacity and some more measurement so we will see. I did cover multiplying fractions since it does tie in with reviewing the multiplication facts. However, I did more than simply go over the algorithm: multiply the numerators, multiply the denominators, reduce. I explained WHY multiplication of fractions has its use.

For example, take ½ x ¼ . Yes, the product is 1/8 but what does it mean? It is basically asking, “What is ½ of ¼ ?” Suppose there was a nice chocolate bar and I took ¾ of it. What you have left is ¼ of it. Now, suppose you have to share that piece with another person: how much of the original chocolate bar do you actually end up eating? You are getting ½ of that ¼ so you eat 1/8 of it.

Tomorrow’s math promises something different. I have found that sending out students on assignments outside of the room has been very successful. Tomorrow will involve another quest but not with Venn Diagrams. All I will say about it is that it has a spy theme. More tomorrow…….

In closing, I have uploaded today's Smart Board Notebook file in .pdf format if you wish to see what we did today.

Another cold Monday greeted us on a late March “spring” morning. The students came in groggy and reminded me of the many zombie movies that have been created over the years, only the movie zombies were more lively. That’s ok, I feel the same way despite copious amounts of coffee.
The warm-up activity had one problem in which they needed to add two fractions with unlike denominators but it was a more simple form of addition. Others involved adding, multiplying, decimals, etc. There are six problems but I covered a lot of review material.

We continued reading aloud the beginning chapters of the second trilogy (Legends) with Time of the Twins. This book takes place about 2 years after the War of the Lance has ended. Though the free people of the world of Krynn were almost engulfed by the evil dragon armies, two years of peace has brought complacency. Sadly, the alliances against the evil are fraying and it seems that people haven’t learned. Others are even starting to say that the war wasn’t so bad after all. Another threat to the world is developing that will make them think twice.

In literacy, I put up a new choice menu and one of the choices was to finish last week’s project. I am not doing anymore 3D constructions for a while since I need to both rebuild materials as well as find room for everything.

In math, today was the day where students went on their Data Quest. They went to an assigned room where they divided the students into four groups and surveyed them. When they returned, the data was compiled into a quadruple Venn Diagram to compare and contrast, show similarities and differences between the four different data sets.

They again used the Quadruple Venn Diagram template.

Quadruple Venn Diagram Blank.jpg

To make things more interesting, Dr. Romanoff (my professor this semester) came today to observe. She was VERY impressed with the class!

This evening is Math Madness from 5:30 to 7:00.pm. I am doing Operations and Algebra with problem solving strategies.

Lastly, I wanted to give you a heads-up that Friday is our third grade full day planning. Ms. White will be covering for me and will be the one who administers the spelling test. I will have the Smart Board notebook file loaded and set up so that it is navigable for anyone.

Friday, March 21, 2014

We had some great news to begin the end of the week. During the announcements, Ms. Williams let us know that my class was one of the winners of the collegiate door decoration contest! Great job!!!
Today’s warm-up had one error on it (missing a number) so it didn’t count. However, by the time this is posted and you are reading this, it will have been corrected and the proper version is available for downloading.

We finished Dragons of Spring Dawning and the class voted to continue with the Legends trilogy. So I started reading the prologue to Time of the Twins. Of course, if the majority of the class does not like this book I can always stop and do something else.

Today was supposed to be computer lab but it is in use for MAP testing (the last one!) and Ms. McCoy isn’t here today. So, my class was split up four ways and dispersed among art, music, the gym, and the media center. Perhaps we will finish it today. I would love to!

In literacy, we continued to work on the choice menu projects for a while before settling down to independent reading. I will have a different choice menu up on Monday and one of the options is to finish what they are currently working on. Then, I won’t have them do dioramas or mobiles anymore for a while since I need to build up supplies and find space for displaying their work. I do have the math projects up on the walls.

In math, we did adding fractions with unlike denominators. This isn’t as easy as adding with the same denominator since they have to use least common multiple to find the common denominator and then add.

The new math assignment has been emailed out and I printed a few hard copies if anyone needs them. It has nine problems and most of them require multiple steps though at least one is pretty simple. The last one requires the construction of a graph.
Lastly, Monday night is the math night and Ms. Artis and I will be there doing activities.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy first day of the spring equinox! Today we should have roughly equal amount of light and darkness and now we can look forward to longer days until the summer solstice of maximum sunlight. Yay!!!
The warm-up (appropriately named for such a beautiful day!) involved algebra, graph construction, and problem solving.

We are getting towards the end of Dragons of Spring Dawning but it is unlikely that we will be finishing the book tomorrow. I imagine that we will come pretty close though. I see us finishing on Monday unless we get extra time tomorrow which I don’t foresee happening.

In literacy, we finished up decorating the door and continued with the choice menu and then with independent reading.

Math was a change in plans. The class did very well with the algebra part so I decided to go back to fractions. I decided to start with adding fractions with like denominators. Well, tomorrow we will have to do fractions with UNLIKE denominators since they blew through all of the work in record time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another rainy morning but truly I can’t complain since droughts are over-rated. I just hope we get enough rain when it is needed the most: the summer!

Today’s warm-up had no graphics and a lot of text but in reality the solutions were simple once the students eliminated the extra information. Two of the problems required a simple calculation while the first one was different in the sense that the student had to solve it and then predict the most likely outcome. Another one required the construction of a pictograph to represent data. The students enjoy doing that since I encourage them to be creative. Instead of the usual “X” I ask them to create whatever symbol they like as long as it is consistent and it is accurate. Think “Miller’s Two C’s of Math”: Correct and Consistent.

In literacy, we are getting towards the conclusion of Dragons of Spring Dawning. I did bring in the Legends trilogy to gauge interest so we shall see.
The students also continued with their usual literacy activities for a shorter time since we needed to decorate our door for March Madness. Each class had to choose a college or university and decorate the outside part of the door. My class chose UNC out of three choices: UNCC, UNC, and Iowa. I decided to choose three to make it easier and less time consuming vs. having the students come up with a whole range of choices and then having the winning vote be by a small margin. While this is a neat initiative, I really don’t want to spend too much class time on this but they are excited about it for sure.

Also, I forgot to mention that I remodeled the area in the back next to the black light where electronics are recharged. I bought two charging stations at Target where two devices (or more) can rest while the cords are better managed. There is even a drawer underneath to store cords and other essentials. This has made a difference because before it was a jumbled mess of cords and wires twisted around. Plus, it frees up the tablet stands for other devices. If I can get to Target before they are all gone I will be sure to get at least one more.

Charging Station.JPG

In math, we continued with the quadruple Venn Diagrams to make sure everyone got them finished. I also paired up each student to design a survey (10-15 questions) for a class of students and then compile the data into a quadruple Venn Diagram of their own. I am thinking that it will most likely be Friday that they will be sent forth once more to their various places throughout the building on another data quest.
Lastly, I showed them another model of a quadruple Venn Diagram that I created.

Quadruple Venn Diagram 2.jpg

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Another rainy and cold day awaited us but at least it wasn’t a disrupted day! It was also a very enjoyable day since the students (again) got to stay inside for recess due to the cold and wetness. From this point onward, please have your child bring his/her tech to school (unless they are forbidden to for whatever reason) on rainy days.

Today’s warm up activity had a review of area and finding the fraction based on its location on a number line. I highly doubt any student got them wrong but it never hurts to keep reviewing. I also had a complex problem that required using the order of operations but no one seemed to struggle with that one either. That is good since I only went over it yesterday. Not bad at all…..

I also continued reading aloud Dragons of Spring Dawning and we are getting into the second half of the book. I still can’t believe how quickly we are going through the story!

In literacy we continued with the projects and now I have a request. If any parent can donate tape (masking, blue painter’s, duct tape, etc), colored paper, and markers it would be greatly appreciated since my supplies are getting low. However, that really is a small price to pay when I see what your children are creating.
In math we had a great lesson!!! Today’s activity was called Data Quest and the class was divided into four groups of students. Each group was assigned a teacher to visit and gather information from her on a questionnaire. Once all of the information was compiled, the class compared and contrasted the data looking for similarities and differences using a quadruple Venn Diagram. Yes, you read that correctly. Below is an example of a quadruple Venn Diagram that I created.

Quadruple Venn Diagram Labeled.jpg

Below is a screen capture from the Smart Board showing the compiled data that the students used to create their Venn Diagrams.

Tuesday Math In Class Graphic.png

In science we did another activity to show how the distance from the sun affects its influence and the time for its energy to reach places in space. I had someone with a stopwatch and another student who recorded the data. I designated one place for each planet in the solar system and I rolled a ball. I was the sun and the ball represented the sun’s energy. I rolled the ball to each “planet” while the time was recorded. Once that was done, students created a graph to reflect the data.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy rainy, cold Saint Patrick’s Day! This was a perfect day to stay inside and hopefully the weather report of a possible episode of freezing rain will not come to pass. The last thing we need is yet another disruption due to the weather! Let’s hope that tomorrow will be a normal day.
This morning’s warm-up had five questions and again I tried to incorporate a variety of skills to be utilized.

I continued reading aloud Dragons of Spring Dawning and we are now 1/3 of the way through the book.

In literacy, we did the reading comprehension practice that consisted of a passage and five questions. Before doing the practice, we went over some good test-taking strategies that they are encouraged to use:

- Read the questions first
- Read all of the text carefully and thoroughly
- Read each question
- Underline/circle/mark important details in the text
- Use the process of elimination
- Reference the text (go back and re-read)
- Eliminate unnecessary information
- Pace yourself – don’t go too fast or too slow
- Review your answers

After reviewing the answers, they continued working on their choice menu projects until it was time to read independently.
Since it was too wet outside, we stayed indoors for recess, which suited the class just fine.

In math, I turned the focus to algebra and went over the Order of Operations used to solve equations that have more than one operation in it. I introduced the time-test acronym PEMDAS for the order, moving left to right:

Parentheses – solve what is in the parentheses first Exponent– (not likely to be used yet) Multiplication Division Addition Subtraction

Here is an example: (11-8) x 3 + 7 + 27 – 3

The first thing is to do what is in the parentheses, so subtract 8 from 11 to get 3.

3 x 3 + 7+27 – 3

The second step is to multiply: 3 x 3 = 9

9 + 7 + 27 – 3

Then add: 9 + 7 = 16

16 + 27 – 3

Add again:

16 + 27 = 43

Subtract: 43 - 3 = 40

I gave them examples on the Smart Board and each student solved it for themselves on their own marker boards, holding them up for immediate feedback. Afterwards, they did an in-class activity and self-checked under the black light.

When math was finished we had double specials since this is Monday (Art and Music). When we returned, I had them straighten up the classroom before packing up, stacking their chairs, and gathering on the carpet for more Dragons of Spring Dawning.

Friday, March 14, 2014

I am out today due to having both a dental and then a medical appointment. I am posting the warm-up for you to review and the homework assignment.

Today’s morning work continued in our week-long proud tradition of taking up a lot of space for only a few problems. But, as we did before, the smaller number of problems required some multiple calculations. The class seems to have done quite well in understanding this without me having to go over it. Good! The only hiccup is that some of my students constructed a bar graph for the last problem instead of the line graph which is appropriate for data over time.

We continued reading aloud Dragons of Spring Dawning and gauging from the casual discussions and from questions from the students, there appears to be enough interest in the Legends trilogy. We shall see.

Literacy was the same as yesterday in that the class worked on their most excellent mini-projects. Truly, I haven’t seen an inferior project all year – big and small! I will have to do some reading comprehension tomorrow.

In math, we did something that hasn’t been done before this year. We are doing data, problem solving, etc. and today’s lesson focused on pictographs with data collection. Since my room is already arranged so that the class is divided into five groups, each group had a mission to visit a pre-determined classroom and survey the students (and the teacher too if desired) about their favorite color from a list. Each of the other four 3rd grade teachers were visited as well as Ms. Vinson’s 2nd grade class across the hall from my room.

Before sending them out, we went over tally marks. I reviewed the standard tally marks with four vertical line segments with a fifth diagonal to represent five.
I also went over the method taught to some students in India where they do it by making a box. Below is a graphic that I created to show the differences and similarities.

Tally Marks Comparison.png

Once they had their data, I asked each group which color was the most popular. Each member of the group received a piece of paper matching the color that was most popular. For example, Group 1 went to Ms. Vinson’s 2nd grade class and found pink to be the most popular so each member received a pink piece of paper.
Then, the task was to create a pictograph to represent the data in a creative manner. Oh yes, the creativity is, as always, astounding! I cannot wait to post these up on the bulletin board in the hallway!!!!

Lastly, I will not be in tomorrow. I have a dental appointment in the morning and then a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. I do not yet have a substitute as I type this but I will update this if I find out in a reasonable amount of time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The students came in on a rainy Wednesday and I could already tell that were definitely staying indoors for recess. However, few if any in my class were disappointed by this since it means get the tablets/computers and play Minecraft. I would like to learn more about it since it is very popular and a lot of teachers use it.

The warm-up had only four problems today and again one entire side was devoted to only one problem. It was the kind where there are four different graphs to choose from and only one of them accurately expresses the data in a tally chart. The other three required some thought such as determining which equation does not fit in with the others. The other two were definitely multi-step problems.

We finished reading Dragons of Winter Night and saw the death of one of the main characters. I began reading Dragons of Spring Dawning which is the final book in the Chronicles Trilogy. I was asked if I am going to read Dragons of Summer Flame and I again stated that I do not wish to read the book. I am still amazed at just how INTO the books my students get! That is fine with me since reading aloud has always been among my favorite activities. I am now torn on whether or not to read the Legends Trilogy next which actually takes place before Dragons of Summer Flame. We shall see both how I feel and whether the class votes for it.

In math, we devoted the time to solving multi-step problems with one exception that involved algebra. The others required at least two steps and some were more difficult than others. We went over each one step-by-step. In my experience, both as a teacher and as a student who struggled with word problems, that practice will make it easier.

Below is a copy in .pdf format of the Smart Board Notebook that I used today along with some of the student work.

Science was a continuation of yesterday’s assignment along with an additional assignment in the textbook. But at the beginning, I did a quick experiment involving light and a light meter. I shined the light from a powerful spotlight directly into the light meter and of course it registered maximum. As a student moved further back, it was observed that the meter reading went down in proportion to the distance from the light source….this demonstrated that the sun’s influence lessens the further away one gets.

Lastly, the Singapore Math assignment has been given out.
Students who have book 3B will do pages 67-71
Students who have book 4A will do pages 67-72

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The warm-up activity in math that I created for today is a bit different. The entire left half of the page is comprised of only one problem. It is one of those problems where the student needs to determine which of the graphs best represents the data in a given chart. Yet, this one actually has two graphs that will be accepted as correct answers. The other side requires the student to determine the fraction of a whole number along with two questions based on a chart. Yes, just four questions today but they are four good ones that make them think!

In literacy, I continued reading Dragons of Winter Night and getting towards the end of it. I am both happy and frustrated. I am happy that the students are really into this series but am frustrated that a few of them have taken it upon themselves to do a little research and find out some things about the story that don’t get revealed until the very end. However, their exposure to the spoilers doesn’t affect their interest in the series.

The class also continued with their choice menu activities though I did allocate time for independent reading this time around. I decided to not do a reading comprehension activity where they read a passage and answer questions, usually in a multiple choice format. While this is important and we have to be prepared for the testing at the end of May, I don’t want that to overshadow the importance of reading itself. Besides, MAP testing (the final one!) is coming up soon.

Speaking of MAP testing, my class is going to pilot the use of the iPads for taking the test. If more classes can do this sort of testing with tablets, it will free up the computer lab. Plus, my class is comprised of students who don’t need a lot of instruction nor help in navigating the different mobile operating systems (Android, IOS, etc.). Besides, these “digital natives” can even teach me a few things.

In science, we did an assignment out of the book concerning the solar system. It is a good review and can hit on anything that I didn’t cover the last time around.
Math was a bit different. As I had mentioned yesterday, I gave them a multiplication and division assessment and had them self-check. This was straight-out arithmetic….just numbers and using algorithms to solve. I wanted to see if they had mastered it so they can be ready for using the calculators on a limited basis. I saw that they are ready to use the calculators. There is NO question that they are ready! However, we did not use calculators today. We focused on problem solving.
Each student was grouped according to a number drawn at random from 1-5. I had some index cards with a number from one to five written on them. I came to the students and had each of them draw any card face down. Once the whole class had their cards, they were to turn them over. Five different locations in the room were designated for the different groups and students were grouped according to the number on the card.

All of them were given the activity and worked on it together. Once finished, the group had to choose a spokesperson and then they could read independently.

Below is both a copy of the activity as well as the Smart Board notebook that shows the student responses.

Unlike Friday’s cold and rainy start we had a warm and sunny start to this week and that is just fine with me! It is nice to be outside and not stuck inside though the students hardly complain about going online if we are forced to have indoor recess. Admittedly, it allows me more time to get things accomplished but that’s ok….I don’t mind since being outside today was well worth it.

The students came in to a warm up that had a good variety of content with one problem reviewing area. However, there didn’t appear to be any issues with solving it. Good!

I did not get to read aloud Dragons of Winter Night after the announcements this morning like I normally do since we held our annual tornado drill. Since I have been teaching for quite a while now (this is my 15th year) I have learned from experience to have the students tuck in their shirts beforehand. Thankfully this year I was spared the “plumbers’ convention.”

After giving out the reading practice, I introduced the new choice menu (see below). I pared this one down to five choices and only one of them needs to be completed by Friday.

New Choice Menu.png

In math, I gave them their multiplication and division test. This was originally planned to have been done Friday but the schedule didn’t allow for it. The students had 20 division problems WITH a remainder and then a choice of 12 multiplication problems using either the lattice method or the traditional method. It was pretty much the same thing just with a different way of solving. Then, they self-checked under the black light. This was to make sure that they are ready to start using calculators on a limited basis to solve problems as well as doing more complex calculations.
Since the 3D fraction projects are due today, I began hanging them up around the room. I am very impressed with the creativity though I can’t say that I was surprised by it. Awesome job!

The Singapore Math books were distributed today so that clears up about two cubic feet of space in my cabinets.

Lastly, as I mentioned on Friday it is my goal to have an activity posted on classmarker.com for your child to do at home.

Friday, March 07, 2014

A cold and rainy day was in store for us and there was no way that we were going outside for recess. Since today is a tech day, the only problem was getting the students to put their devices down so they could go eat.

The morning work went pretty well and I am shifting the focus to operations and algebraic thinking for the time being. From what I am hearing, about 30-35% of the EOG test will be about that concept. If approximately 1/3 of the test is covering that, then it is truly a no-brainer as to what I am going to hit for a few weeks. This doesn’t mean that the warm-up will be solely about it…..it will continue to have a variety of problems that will review other material.

We continued reading aloud Dragons of Winter Night and are now 2/3 of the way through the book.

We also had to do another reading benchmark today that didn’t take long. This benchmark’s focus is to help us decide how to group students for reading Hive Time in two weeks. Hive Time will be covering math for the next two weeks and operations and algebraic thinking will be the topic of review.

I am not doing spelling words for next week. I am giving out the Singapore Math books on Monday since I am assigning the homework on that day too. We will move from Books 3A and 3B to 3B and 4A.

Progress reports in math and literacy were given out today with your child. I also instructed all of my students to bring home their login information for you to access www.classmarker.com.

That is what we did in Tech Time today. My goal for next week is to have another activity for your child to do at home. I will have to limit each student to one attempt per activity since I only get 100 credits each month.

I signed up for the education package which gives us 100 credits per month. Each time someone takes a test or does an assigned activity, it counts as one credit. If four activities are assigned per month, I should be within the limit without any issues.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

I can't believe that this particular page is already over 1100 hits. That is just counting since it was placed there though I don't really remember when.

Today they came in to the normal warm-up activity. There was one question on elapsed time. While it will be on the test at the end of the year, I don't think that I will need to focus too heavily on it since this is something that the class has mastered. It won't hurt to review it from time to time but I don't foresee a heavy focus on it.

We continued reviewing reading comprehension and I gave the class time to work on their choice menu projects in class.

At 11:00 we again switched for science and social studies. Tomorrow, the class will be given time to finish their assignments as well as having a quiz on the solar system content. Ms. Allen's class will get to self-check their work which is something that my class is used to doing. As of this writing I am not certain which method I will use until tomorrow. This depends on whether or not I can get it printed at home in a satisfactory manner.

What I am talking about is putting on a pair of red decoder glasses to see the answers. This requires a special approach and I *think* I have it down. Otherwise, I will write the answers in invisible ink and the students can use the black light to check.

In math, we reviewed area and perimeter. For the first time, I used the Smart Board's ten-sided dice and calculator features that I just realized existed. While it is very exciting to learn about all of the goodies that the Smart Board has available, it is frustrating on a personal level since I wish I knew about them at the beginning of the year rather than have to be self-taught. Oh well. This does tell me, based on the students' work, that they may be ready for heavier problem solving and using calculators. We will find out tomorrow when I give them a test on the operations and see how well they do.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone of a few things:

1) There is no spelling test tomorrow
2) The Singapore Math is a bust since I had already assigned it before
3) Tomorrow is a tech day
4) I am giving out the second Singapore Math book tomorrow
5) Progress reports went home and I am going to be entering grades throughout the week next week so please look for a second progress report on Thursday or Friday of next week.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

This week we continued the focus on reading comprehension during third grade’s Hive Time. As a reminder, Hive Time is scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week from 1:00 to 1:45. The next two weeks will be math-based.

After reading aloud Dragons of Winter Night, I returned yesterday’s reading passage and we went over each of the five questions. Most of the class did pretty well but the concern that I have for reading comprehension isn’t a lack of it but in taking one’s time and reading the questions carefully. This is something that needs to be worked on before the EOG tests.

Once that was done with, the students continued to work on the choice menu mini projects.

At 11:00, we again switched for science and social studies and we will be doing that tomorrow and Friday as well.

In science, we reviewed the characteristics of the inner (terrestrial – rock) and outer (jovian – gas) planets along with how the sun’s influence (gravitational pull and radiation) lessens the further away one gets from the sun. I also did an experiment that worked this time around. I picked up a powerful spotlight (2 million candlepower) and shined it directly at a light meter. Since it was so close to the light source, the light meter maxed out. By shining the light downwards, I went around the room and showed each group.

Next, I picked a volunteer to hold the light meter towards me while I shined it at the device (her eyes were averted, of course!). Each time I did this, my student volunteer backed further away and reported that the light meter displayed a lower reading.
This was a demonstration of how the sun’s radiation loses influence as one gets further out into space.

Then, the class continued working on their two assignments from the textbook. However, a number of students were finished and it was necessary to assign a more challenging activity. With my demonstration/experiment in mind, they had to design a way to prove what I had just proven but in a different way. I am excited to see what they come up with!

In math, today’s focus was on telling time via an analog clock and calculating elapsed time. Despite this being something most students in my class (if not all) have already mastered, it is still a third grade skill and I wanted to make sure that it was covered.

Lastly, there is a movie night tomorrow night (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) in the gym at 6:00 (doors open at 5:30). This is to support the 4th graders. Concessions will be available for purchase (pizza, water, candy).

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Yesterday brought us rain and colder temperatures as the day wore on culminating in sleet and then freezing temperatures. However, we were not affected at all by the weather this time and I am grateful that the routine hasn’t been disrupted. That is good since we are going to be hitting the standards hard for the next 2 ½ months until we arrive at testing.
Today’s warm-up in math was mostly disgusting food-based but had the students do multiple steps in solving the problems.

We continued with the read aloud book, Dragons of Winter Night and are getting to the one third mark in the book. This is interesting since it is a longer book and I have less time to read aloud. But, we are progressing.

We did a reading passage today and also worked on the choice menu.

We continued this week’s switching for science and social studies. My focus in science remains the solar system. We had a review discussion and then I added a second assignment. I will allow some class time tomorrow to finish and then move on.

In math, we finished up the benchmark assessment. I am interested in seeing how they did on the variety of material. It will give me a good idea of what needs to be focused on.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The first day of March greets us! With March comes spring (and spring fever) and the promise of nicer weather. I noticed about half of the class has begun bringing in their math projects already. They are due next Monday but I don’t mind at all. Again, I am very impressed at the creativity that I am seeing. This is why I try to keep rules and guidelines to a minimum since the reward is a superb variety of greatness!

We did the warm-up as usual. Today’s focus was more than just fractions. We will be doing more diverse stuff this week.

We also continued reading aloud Dragons of Winter Night and gave the class time to work on their choice board project. There was also a main idea activity.
At 11:00 we switched for science and social studies and will do it each day this week. I am anticipating two weeks of science for my class too. Ms. Allen’s class continued working on their reading assignment on the solar system and I am expecting everyone to be finished tomorrow.

In math, it was necessary to administer another math assessment that was not just fractions. The scanner is not up yet from what I have been told so Friday’s assessment will have to be graded the old fashioned way. Today’s will be scanned as soon as the scanner itself is operational. Since there are 40 questions that cover a variety of content, I told the class to take their time and to not rush. I will be giving them time tomorrow.

I am planning on going deeper into fractions Wednesday with adding and subtracting with like denominators. The reasoning behind this is that it helps with the understanding of the differing values of fractions in terms of comparing and contrasting. It also keeps greatest common factor fresh in their minds since that skill is used to reduce fractions to their simplest forms.

Lastly, as I mentioned before, there are no spelling words this week but the math homework is as follows:

Singapore Math Book 3A: Pages 104-110
Singapore Math Book 3B: Pages 70-76

This will be the last time I assign this book for homework. I will be passing out the second book that you purchased back in the fall by the end of the week.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Since this is Friday, the students now go to their specials from 10:10-10:55. So on Fridays I do this blog entry during that time.
The morning work is below for downloading. It again attempts to prepare the class for today’s 3rd grade math test this afternoon by having problems that are similar yet not totally the same (congruent) as the test.

After specials we switched for science and social studies where we did a review activity until it was time for recess and lunch.

I showed them a brief video from NASA showing water in a microgravity environment and what the water does when the balloon is popped. Since the DC-9 plane only gives the astronauts about 30 seconds to experience microgravity and weightlessness, they don’t have a lot of time to do this.

When they popped the water balloon, it was interesting to watch the water coalesce into a rough sphere. If they had more than just 30 seconds, the water would have formed a sphere just like the planets. This is a proof that anything with mass has gravity.

When we returned from lunch, we took the spelling test and did a main idea activity for the second part of literacy.

After literacy, the 3rd grade math test was administered. This test has 20 multiple choice questions, some with three answer choices while others had four. All of the questions were centered on fraction identification and finding a fraction on a number line. The neat thing is that each student was given his/her own scan sheet to bubble in answers. I believe we are going to run them through the scanner on Monday while they are in specials. As silly as it sounds, I am very excited about it since I have always wanted to see that. It makes me wish that I had my own optical mark reader in my class especially with the prices coming way down. However, that is wishful thinking since the trend in student assessment is to get away from filling in circles on a bubble sheet and towards online assessments. We are moving from strictly multiple choice to multiple response where there could be more than one correct response but students are going to have to explain their answers.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Today we began reading Dragons of Winter Night. I am going to read this one and Dragons of Spring Dawning and then stop. About ten years after the publication of the original trilogy (1984-1985) another book was published titled Dragons of Summer Flame. I hated that book and I don’t want to read it. Rumor has it that the authors were contractually obligated to write it and transition into a “5th age” so they killed off a lot of characters in a literary massacre. It was a grudging book that they wrote. Of course, that is just rumor but I can see why people would say that.

There is also a Legends trilogy that centers on three of the original characters from this trilogy but I will end it after the next book. I am sure that I will be tired of this fantasy world by then. Students are free to read it if they like.

Today’s warm up was a little bit shorter in content due to it being heavier with graphics but I felt that they were necessary. I want to approach fractions and other types of problems from different angles since we never know what to expect on the tests. Besides, this gives the students a lot of practice with problem solving.

I had to leave for training and was gone a part of the day. I did pick up the students after lunch and we did a math review with greatest common factor, fractions, etc.
The training was concerning me being appointed the new webmaster for the school’s website. There is a learning curve on this one but I will do my best to keep it great!

Also, I want to remind everyone that the homework is due tomorrow as well as there will be the spelling test.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I am sure that you know by now that the school board voted last night to save spring break! I don’t know about you but for me, that was a relief! Of course, they did emphasize the fact that winter isn’t over yet and if any more school days are missed due to inclement weather, they will have to be made up and during spring break at that. Let us hope that there is no more of that for the rest of the year!

The students continued reviewing fractions for the morning work as shown below.

We also finished reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I am still not sure if I want to read Dragons of Winter Night or not. As I write this, my mind is veering towards doing something else but that can easily change. If I was to decide here and now, it would be Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

The class also continued studying main idea with another activity in which they read a passage, chose the best answer, and self-checked at the back with the red decoder glasses. I know that the picture from yesterday only vaguely showed the answer and what you mostly saw was a large red rectangle. I have to carefully balance readability with invisibility (or the illusion of it) to make sure that the answers aren’t easily seen without the aid of the glasses. I assure you that here in the classroom, if you were to put on the glasses, you would see the correct answers more clearly.

In math, the focus has moved away from fractions on a number line to fractions in general for Friday’s test. The test is multiple choice, some questions have four answer choice while others have three. There are 20 problems/questions strictly focused on fractions and each student will have his/her own bubble sheet.

Though it does seem that students are testing a lot, this is necessary in preparation for mandated testing at the end of the year and we want to do our best to prepare each student as much as we can. But, please be assured that the instructional focus each day will continue to be on learning rather than test prep.

We also had a quicker lesson since they have mastered the fractions part up to this point. I even briefly covered multiplying fractions too.

In science, we did the activity out in the hallway…..

Before doing the activity below, I had to go over the unit of measurement called the Astronomical Unit (AU) which is the average distance from the sun to the Earth (»93,000,000 miles/150,000,00 km). So, the Earth is 1 AU from the sun. Mars is 1.5 AU and so on. Since astronomy deals with such vast distances, the AU helps make the numbers more manageable. That is why, for example, distances beyond the solar system such as stars and galaxies are measured in light years instead of miles. Why? A light year is the distance that light will travel in space, in a vacuum, over the length of one Earth year. It is approximately 6 trillion miles or »6,000,000,000,000. Our nearest stellar neighbor is the star Alpha Centauri which is 4.5 light years or »27,000,000,000,000 miles away. That is a LOT of zeroes!

I used a device called the Solar System Mapping Tool which is really a glorified tape measure. Since I have 20 students and there are 10 separate places on the tool, I chose two students for each place (sun, Mercury, etc.). Then, since the tool is 61 feet in length, we had to go into the hallway to do this.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Today we continued our focus on main idea and fractions. The class did the warm-up and found an error on the last question so I had to omit it. The fact that the ENTIRE class, student after student, caught the error, shows me that they have it down! I am going to spend today on it while tomorrow’s focus will be fractions in general to prepare for Friday’s test. This is a VERY good sign! Great job!

We also continued reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Then, I did something different today and it turned out to be a great success. Since our focus was on main idea, the students had a reading passage that covered main idea questions. This time, they self-checked at the back with a different method. Instead of revealing the answers in invisible ink via the black light, I posted the answer key and scribbled red ink over it. By wearing red decoder glasses (like 3D glasses but they have two red lenses rather than red and cyan), the lens filters out the red ink and reveals the text underneath. The class loved it and I will do this more often!

Red Decoder Activity 1.JPG

Below is a picture taken with the red lens over the iPad camera. It didn't turn out too well but it gives you an idea. It does look much clearer with one's own eyes.

Red Decoder Activity 2.JPG

At 11:00 we switched for social studies.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class came and we continued the study of the solar system with a weird video that gave a thirty minute overview of astronomy. Tomorrow, we will do the fun solar system relative distance activity.

In math, we continued with fractions on a number line.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Another Monday and another start to another week is what we came into this morning. Let us all hope that this week will be free of anything out of the ordinary. This also marks the last week in February and the last full month of winter. Normally, I like the cold weather but this year I am ready for spring!!!!

The students’ morning work in math reflected the area of need that I mentioned on Friday with the concept of locating a fraction on a number line. So, that is what the focus was mostly about though there were two of them that deviated to not include the number line. There is going to be a 3rd grade math test this Friday that is covering fractions so I am trying to prepare them as best as I can. As I mentioned to the class this morning concerning the test, I am not concerned about them not knowing the material as much as I am concerned about them over-thinking and over-analyzing the problems. TD students have a tendency to complicate that which is really simple in nature. So, I am working on that too.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight and we are now ¾ of the way through the book. We also began a new week where students worked on mini-projects for the choice menu. This week, the menu will remain the same but next Monday I am going to alter it for the sake of variety.

Literacy Choice Board Week of February 3 to 7.jpg

In math, as I have already mentioned, we focused heavily on locating a fraction on a number line. I had 15 of those problems created and was planning on spending a good chunk of the class period today to go over them step-by-step. Well, I DID go over a few step-by-step but it became very clear, very quickly, that the class had it mastered. So, I gave them the in-class assignment (self-checked on the blacklight) and all I heard was how easy it was.

BUT, I am still going to cover it tomorrow as well as Wednesday and Thursday to be sure. I will also be reviewing fractions in general.

Also, the math project that was assigned last month was due a week from Today. This is the 3D fraction project that I have mentioned. Now, due to the month of February being absolutely crazy and disrupted, I am extending the deadline another week. The students don’t know this yet but it is now due on Monday, March 10. Below is both the rubric that will be used to grade it and a copy of the guidelines.

Happy Friday! I am writing this while the students are in their specials class (computer lab) at the new time of 10:10 to 10:55 to accommodate Hive Time and to make sure that it is a common time for all.

We continued reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. We are now slightly more than halfway through the book. Below is a copy of the warm up activity.

Since I am leaving this afternoon for a workshop AND the dance is this afternoon, I wanted to do the science. So after specials, this is what we did…..

In science, the big activity was concerning an understanding of the relative distances of planets and other bodies in the solar system from the sun. I did not do this activity with Ms. Allen’s class since the necessary item did not yet arrive but both activities are similar in rigor, relevance, and engagement.

Before doing the activity below, I had to go over the unit of measurement called the Astronomical Unit (AU) which is the average distance from the sun to the Earth (»93,000,000 miles/150,000,00 km). So, the Earth is 1 AU from the sun. Mars is 1.5 AU and so on. Since astronomy deals with such vast distances, the AU helps make the numbers more manageable. That is why, for example, distances beyond the solar system such as stars and galaxies are measured in light years instead of miles. Why? A light year is the distance that light will travel in space, in a vacuum, over the length of one Earth year. It is approximately 6 trillion miles or »6,000,000,000,000. Our nearest stellar neighbor is the star Alpha Centauri which is 4.5 light years or »27,000,000,000,000 miles away. That is a LOT of zeroes!

I used a device called the Solar System Mapping Tool which is really a glorified tape measure. Since I have 20 students and there are 10 separate places on the tool, I chose two students for each place (sun, Mercury, etc.). Then, since the tool is 61 feet in length, we had to go into the hallway to do this.

Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, 2014

Welcome to the longest stretch of the school year! This is the period from the beginning of January to spring break, which is longer this time around with Easter being in April. This is the time of the year where the breaks are fewer and far between while simultaneously things get crazier and more hectic.

I had to leave after dropping my class off at the cafeteria for a workshop required for all CMS 3rd grade teachers. It covered literacy, which is the major focus, and doing interactive read-alouds, etc. That is something I do every day and yet there were still some valuable take-aways from it. I am here all day today for this evening is the Read to Achieve parent night with the students performing after the information session of the Read to Achieve legislation and how it affects 3rd graders.

I am writing this in the morning so I am taking a leap of faith that there will be nothing disruptive to the schedule.

Below are the two warm-up activities from today and yesterday. As you can see, I am touching on multi-step problem solving and incorporating fractions.

In literacy, we continued with reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. We are actually getting close to being at the half-way point in the book. It is a good sized novel with a lot that has happened so far and a lot more that will happen later on. I keep debating about whether or not to keep reading the series beyond this book. My thinking at this point, which is in constant flux, is that I will do an old favorite: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM. It is only a thought so please don’t be surprised if it changes.

We also finished up on the choice menu. The individual choices were supposed to have been finished two weeks ago but with the weather related disruptions I wanted to be sure that there was time enough. The students will choose two more different ones next week.

The spelling test is tomorrow. I just want to remind everyone that I will continue to do spelling words until sometime after spring break. The period from spring break until about mid-May is the intense time when schools prepare their students for the big tests. It may be necessary to use the time normally for spelling tests to focus more on reading comprehension first and foremost until after testing is over. However, that is still at least two months into the future so that is all tentative.
At the end of literacy, I spent some class time allowing students to make their own paper airplanes for engineering week. The big contest is tomorrow for the winner of each class. The rules are: students must make the plane at school using standard copy paper or notebook paper; nothing can be added to it. I gave my students paper and then we went to work.

Congratulations to Carson whose plane came in first place and to Armaan who was the runner up. Good luck Carson!!!

In math, we continued our focus on fractions. We reviewed both finding the fraction of a whole number and determining where on a number line that a fraction would be placed.

Today's in-class assignment was very valuable since it showed me that a lot of students are still struggling with the number line and fractions. So, I am going to have to put everything else on hold until this concept has been mastered. Tomorrow's math focus will be more instructional and the independent work much shorter in duration.

Since there is not enough time today due to practicing for the performance, I am going to devote about half of the literacy block tomorrow for science. We will be going over the solar system and the relative distances between all of the bodies within.

I also want to mention that I will have to leave early tomorrow for another training session in literacy (Words Their Way). This time it will be from 1:00 onward and I do have a substitute. That is another reason why I want to get the science done. That should be the last professional development session that I know of.

Lastly, I do not know how many of you are subscribers to the BeeMail that the PTA sends out so I am pasting a copy of it below.

Spirit Wear
Read to Achieve Information Session
Reading Buddies
Second Quarter AR Winners
Family Movie Night
Support our Fourth Graders
PTA Positions 2014-2015
Club Volunteers Needed
Meeting the Needs of Gifted Children
School Nurses in CMS
CMS Budget Information
Love the Bus Month

DATES TO REMEMBER

Feb. 20: Third Grade Parent Night, 5:30 - 7:00 Feb. 21: Spirit Wear Orders Due Feb. 27: Read to Achieve Information Session, 6-7 at the Stratford YMCA March 6: Family Movie Night, 5:30 March 20: CMS Parent Event: Social/Emotional Needs of Gifted Children, 6:30, Waddell

Spring Spirit Wear Sale

Did you miss your chance to order Spirit Wear in our new design last Fall? Tomorrow -- Friday, February 21 -- is the last day to turn in orders for our spring Spirit Wear sale. Make checks payable to Barringer PTA and turn your order in to the main office or your teacher. Shirts will be sent home with students the week of March 17th.

Read to Achieve Information Sessions

The third grade parent meeting including student performances as well as an explanation and discussion of North Carolina's new Read to Achieve law will take place tonight, Thursday, February 20, at 5:30 in the BAC gymnasium. This law requires new reading assessments, summer reading camps, and possible grade retention for many third graders. Third grade parents who were unable to attend this meeting or the information session earlier this week are encouraged to come to our final information session on Thursday, February 27, from 6-7 PM at the Stratford YMCA (1946 West Blvd.). Click herefor more information about Read to Achieve and how it will affect our students.

Reading Buddies

We are recruiting volunteers to serve as Reading Buddies for K-3 students. Volunteers can have a real impact on a child's success with only a 30-45 minute weekly time commitment. No previous experience or formal training is necessary…only the desire to make a difference! If you are interested in helping, please click here to sign up for a day and time that fits your schedule, and you will be contacted by our tutoring coordinator with more information.

Second Quarter AR Winners

Congratulations to our class AR winners for the second quarter! These classes achieved the highest participation level (percent of students meeting their AR goal) or point total:

Kindergarten: Ms. Abernethy (100% participation) and Ms. Muffler (173.7 points) First Grade: Ms. Beaube (85.7% participation) and Ms. Moore (334.6 points) Second Grade: Ms. Will (86% participation, 582.7 points) Third Grade: Ms. Gross (100% participation, 1105.2 points) Fourth Grade: Ms. Woods (82% participation, 1401 points) Fifth Grade: Mr. Lemere (90% participation) and Ms. Boyd (1146.9)

Family Movie Night

BAC will host a Family Movie Night on Thursday, March 6 -- bring your family to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 in the gym! Doors open at 5:30 and the movie will begin promptly at 6:00. Admission is only $3 per family and includes popcorn! Other concessions (pizza, water, candy) will also be available, or bring your own picnic dinner. All proceeds will benefit the fourth grade field trip to BizTown. Volunteers are needed to assist with concessions; if you are able to help click here to sign up.

Help our Fourth Graders Get to BizTown!

All Barringer fourth graders will take a trip to BizTown in March. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about economics and personal finance as they experience being citizens and consumers of a working "town". You can help raise the funds to pay for the trip by attending Family Movie Night on March 6 or visiting this fundraising website.

PTA Positions 2014-2015

Interested in chairing or co-chairing one of Barringer 's PTA committees? Let us hear from you! We have several committees whose chairs who are in their final year as BAC parents, including Yearbook, Grounds, and Spirit Wear. You can find a list and descriptions of all committees on the PTA website. If you are interested in serving and/or would like more information, contact Nominating Committee chair Elizabeth Roop at eproop78@yahoo.com.

Club Volunteers Needed

Parents are needed to help out with the Nature Explorers and Fiber Arts clubs on Fridays from 3:00-4:00. Nature Explorers is a club for second and third graders learning about nature and gardening, sponsored by Ms. Turner (pamela.turner@cms.k12.nc.us). Fiber Arts, sponsored by Ms. Metcalf (evelynl.metcalf@cms.k12.nc.us), is a club for second and third graders learning knitting, sewing, and related skills. Experience in these areas is helpful but not required and you do not have to have a child in the club! If you are interested in helping with either club please contact the sponsor.

CMS Parent Event: Social & Emotional Needs of Gifted Children

On Thursday, March 20, CMS will host a parent event exploring the social and emotional needs of gifted children, featuring Dr. Rick D. Courtright, Gifted Education Specialist with the Talent Identification Program at Duke University. This event will be held at Waddell Language Academy from 6:30 - 8:30 PM. Detailed information about the presentation can be found here.

School Nurses in CMS

Did you know that many schools (including Barringer) do not have a full-time nurse, and that funding for school nurses comes from the county, not from CMS? A new group called NC Parents Advocating for School Health is working to get more nurses in schools. You can find more information about the importance of school nurses and how concerned parents can get involved at their website, www.ncpash.weebly.com, or contact the group atncschoolhealth@gmail.com.

CMS Budget Information

CMS is seeking community input on its 2014-15 budget. Parents are invited to take an online budget survey as well as attend one of five community engagement meetings:

Feb. 26: West Charlotte High School March 3: Myers Park High School March 10: Bradley Middle School April 21: Hopewell High School April 24: South Mecklenburg High School

All meetings will be from 6:00 - 7:30 PM. For more information, visit the Budget/Capital Plan page of the CMS website.

Love the Bus Month The wheels on the bus could not go “round and round” without the bus drivers who navigate North Carolina’s roads to make sure students get to and from school safely each day. That is why State Superintendent June Atkinson is encouraging parents, teachers, school leaders and students to recognize these drivers during national Love the Bus month in February. Click here for more information from the NC State Board of Education, and be sure to say a special thank you to your bus driver this month!

Our mailing address is: Barringer Academic Center PTA1546 Walton Rd Charlotte, NC28208

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tonight is going to be the first Read to Achieve night at the YMCA near the school. The parent night here at Barringer will be this Thursday at 5:30 and should last until about 7:00. There will be an information session first about the Read to Achieve legislation and then the student performance.

Today’s warm up focused more on multistep problem solving but still incorporated fractions though I did not have the space for probability today. From the information that is coming in, the EOG test in math will be heavy on the multistep problems involving multiple operations (first add then divide, etc.) so I am going to be keeping that in sight as we continue with fractions. I still want to at least touch on multiplying fractions before moving on. I know that I had mentioned adding fractions as well as compound probability but it might be more prudent to wait until after testing is over with before finishing up the year with the other stuff. According to our pacing guide, we are scheduled to revisit area and perimeter, measuring liquids and mass, and multiplying and dividing within 100.

Your children, however, can multiply and divide within any number but it doesn’t hurt to review and go deeper. We will begin to use calculators more frequently once the basics have been mastered. I am hesitant to use them because they can be a distraction and I don’t want ANY of my students going to 4th grade with a deficiency in the basic operations.

We are going to emphasize more justification of one’s answers as well. Since we are getting towards the end of the curriculum and start reviewing, I want each student to be able to explain WHY a particular answer was reached. This will prepare them for the tests that are in the near future and make them think critically.

Math was a continuation of yesterday in which students had to find the fraction of a given whole number. For example, 2/3 of 21 is 14. I did teach them the multiplying fractions method as well as the cross reducing way.

With science, we began studying Earth and space science. We started out with reviewing the solar system, its bodies, the sun and its gravitational pull, why the Earth experiences seasons, and why gravity with centripetal force keeps everything in place, including water.

I showed them a website that shows the realistic orbits of all of the planets in our solar system in relation to each other.

With that, we did two experiments/demonstrations. The first one involved a student holding a globe and another holding up a spotlight. The spotlight represents the sun and the one holding the globe held walked around the “sun” to demonstrate its orbit.

The graphic below shows why the seasons are reversed. In July, the northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight resulting in summer while the southern hemisphere receives less, resulting in winter. In January, it is the opposite.

Earth's Seasons.png

The second demonstration was concerning gravity and centripetal force. Centripetal force is the force that causes an object to push inward. In astronomy, in our case, gravity supplies the centripetal force. This is the reason why everything stays on the Earth and why objects fall. It is also the reason why the ocean stays where it is at.

This leads to the demonstration. I used a device called the Spill-not®. I placed a plastic cup of water in my hands and asked the class what would happen if I moved it around. The answer, of course, is that it will slosh around and possibly spill out if enough force is used.

I then placed it on the Spill-not® and spun it around. By action of centripetal force, the cup (and the water!) remained in place even when upside down.

spillnot2.jpg

The animation below shows how gravity keeps one down on the ground.

spaceapl.gif

Tomorrow the focus will be on the moon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Welcome back to what was originally planned as a teacher workday that is now a normal school day. I hope that everyone enjoyed the snow days since we are paying for them. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we will be given some flexibility in how those missed days will be dealt with. At least the likelihood of any additional missed days is low. I am hoping for a return to normality so the students can settle back into what they like best: a routine!

In keeping with the spirit of the routine, the students returned to a math warm-up that was based on what they already knew. Though about a third of it was based on probability, we have touched on it prior to this since it uses fractions and fractions in simplest form. Merely, probability at this point is the application of what they already know and taking it a small step further.

In literacy, I continued reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight which as hooked the students as much as the Shadow Children, Tripods, and Little House series before that.
We also started to focus on the skill of main idea and supporting detail.

In math, we continued with fractions but instead of just focusing on mixed and improper fractions the emphasis was on finding the fractional value of a whole number. Huh? All it means is, as an example, what is ½ of 40? Easy! You divide by two. That was the easy part. However, I am sure that you know that I can’t let it be THAT simple can I? So, I also had them figure out stuff like 2/14 of 42. Since this is math and math is the science of patterns, take what you know and apply the same rules as before. Divide 42 by 14 to get a quotient of 3. 3 is 1/14 of 42. However, we need to know what 2/14 of 42 is so we take three and multiply it by two to get six. 6 is 2/14 of 42.

We will continue with this as well as introducing adding fractions with like denominators and multiplying fractions, which is by-far the easiest operation in fractions. Plus, learning the operations is a VERY useful thing with fractions so that is the direction we will go in. Also, once multiplication of fractions is mastered and if there is time, we will do compound probabilities. That is something that I enjoyed teaching my 6th graders but I want to make sure that the existing content has been mastered first.

Once that is the case, we will do compound probability. For example, if there is a bag of ten marbles (eight blue and two red), the probability of reaching into the bag and pulling out a blue marble is 8/10 or 4/5 (a four in five chance). The students already know this.
Now, the compound part is figuring the probability of a person reaching into the same bag, pulling out a blue marble, putting it back, and pulling out another blue marble. 4/5 x 4/5 =16/25. There is a 16 in 25 chance of that happening.

Another way is the example of reaching into the bag, pulling out a blue marble, KEEPING IT, and reaching in to get another blue. 4/5 x 7/9=28/45. Why the 7/9? Because there were ten marbles and with one taken out there are nine left.

That will give you an idea of what will be covered once everything else has been mastered. I want to make sure that the students have everything in the pacing guide down pat first and foremost.

Today, we dismiss early and I am highly doubtful about tomorrow. If the forecast is correct, Wednesday is a lost cause. At least today some learning was accomplished with the time we had together.

I also want to thank all of the parents who signed up for the text alerts! I also would like to thank all of you for your very quick responses yesterday and this morning to let me know how your child will get home. That saved me a LOT of time and gave me more time to focus on my class.

We did focus on literacy today due to the schedule. I continued reading aloud the book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the kids are getting hooked on it. Yes!!! I am still not sure if I am going to read Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning but we shall see. The books mentioned comprise the Chronicles Trilogy. There are three more (Legends - Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, Test of the Twins) books plus Dragons of Summer Flame. I don't believe we will come anywhere near reading them.

The homework is the Singapore Math books.....

Book 3A: Pages 28-37
Book 3B: Pages 67-76

Monday, February 10, 2014

Today we began the week with the uncertainty of snow and snow days. I will definitely be keeping a close watch for any school announcements related to the weather but I will send out a text/email blast and send out a Tweet from my Twitter account. Should the weather be bad enough tomorrow to warrant an early dismissal, please let me know ASAP how your child will be getting home.

In literacy, we did one more day of idioms and figurative expressions with the following: "You are what you eat," "Crying over spilt milk," "Tip of the iceberg," and "Thinking outside of the box."

You are what you eat.jpg

crying over spilt milk.jpg

just the tip of the iceberg.jpg

thinking outside the box.png

We also took the spelling test that we did not have time for last Friday.

We also continued the read-aloud of Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
In math, we reviewed mixed numbers, improper fractions, and changing them back and forth. Students were given a choice of either one.

The homework for this week is Singapore Math:
Book 3a:

Book 3b:

Friday, February 07, 2014

Today we began reading the new book in the new series. The book is Dragons of Autumn Twilight from the Dragonlance series that came out 30 years ago this year. We have done historical fiction, science fiction, and autobiography so now we are moving into fantasy. I will read the first book and see whether or not there is interest in continuing.

We did not get the time to do the spelling test due to clubs so I will do it on Monday.

In math, we continued with fractions and used the Socrative online response system.

In science, we continued exploring the solar system and did an experiment on how long it takes for the sun's energy to reach each part of the solar system.

This is going to have to be short today due to time constraints but Monday's will be longer and more in depth.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Since today is Thursday, stuff is going home. Your child’s report card envelope needs to be returned with the beige insert signed. You are welcome to keep the report card itself. Also, each parent is getting a blue sheet for you to update emergency dismissal and people authorized to pick up your child. There is also a letter informing you of parent night next Thursday as well as the award ceremony on Tuesday.

Today we did a warm-up that didn’t have as much in terms of sheer numbers but it still required some effort. Students had to try to color in as many ways of expressing how 12 can be grouped (1x12, 2x6, 6x2, 3x4, etc.) within the confines of the grid.

In literacy, we did some more idioms/figurative expressions and tomorrow will be the last day for it.
Today’s idioms/figurative expressions are: “Follow your nose”, “Pig out”, and “Under the weather.”

follow your nose.png

pig-out.jpg

Under-the-Weather.jpg

In math, we continued with fractions. While yesterday’s focus was learning how to change a mixed number to an improper fraction, today’s focus was the opposite: using long division to change an improper fraction to a mixed number. If time permits today, I will create a post a couple of narrated mini-lessons on both concepts.

Again, the students were given an in-class activity to self-check under the black light with the answers written in invisible ink.

In science, we focused on the moon, the lunar cycles, and eclipses.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Today we continued with the usual schedule for a Wednesday, which is Hive Time in the afternoon (math this week). Below is the warm-up (with a typo on the answer key – the fraction should be 5/7, not 5/8).

We also continued with the read aloud of Among the Free. The Population Police have been overthrown but things aren’t necessarily good either. They will find out.
We also did two more idioms/figurative expressions. They are: “Out of line” and “Frog in your throat.”

Frog-in-your-throat.jpg

In math, we began doing mixed numbers, how to express them, and how to convert them to an improper fraction. Students were given an activity and self-checked under the black light in the back.

Today, we finished reading aloud Among the Enemy and began reading the final book in the Shadow Children series, Among the Free. Luke is once more the main character in the book who unknowingly and unwittingly makes a decision that sets a massive chain of events into motion. He becomes a catalyst for a change but as with the previous series (The Tripods), it is up to the reader to interpret whether or not the ending is happy.

I posted the link to Ms. Allen’s Weebly page but I am also including it below as well. Please bookmark it so you can follow what Ms. Allen is doing in social studies.

The morning work is posted below. We are continuing with fractions but I am inserting some probability (Singular) since that involves fractions. Maybe towards the end of the year, when all else has been mastered, I can do compound probability like what is covered in 6th grade.

We continued with idioms and speech expressions. The idioms/expressions of figurative language that we did today are: “On cloud nine”, “Driving someone up a wall”, and “Fishing tackle.”

cloud-9.jpg

Driving-me-up-the-wall.jpg

Fishing-Tackle.jpg

We also continued working on the choice menu options. As I mentioned yesterday, students will choose two and have until Friday to complete them. I am working on a rubric used to grade them and will post it when it is ready.

In math, I decided to change my mind this morning. I had originally intended to continue with fractions, and I did for a part of the class to review, but decided to do a graphing exercise instead.

First, the fractions: I have created a full color fraction strip chart that can be printed and cut out. This will aid in comparing fractions, reducing, etc. I am also posting the black and white version both below and on the Math Helps page (link).

The graphing activity is posted below for downloading. The students, while all have the same chart of data, have three options for the assignment.

After specials, my class switched with Ms. Allen’s for science and social studies.

With science, we began studying Earth and space science. We started out with reviewing the solar system, its bodies, the sun and its gravitational pull, why the Earth experiences seasons, and why gravity with centripetal force keeps everything in place, including water.

I showed them a website that shows the realistic orbits of all of the planets in our solar system in relation to each other.

With that, we did two experiments/demonstrations. The first one involved a student holding a globe and another holding up a spotlight. The spotlight represents the sun and the one holding the globe held walked around the “sun” to demonstrate its orbit.

The graphic below shows why the seasons are reversed. In July, the northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight resulting in summer while the southern hemisphere receives less, resulting in winter. In January, it is the opposite.

Earth's Seasons.png

The second demonstration was concerning gravity and centripetal force. Centripetal force is the force that causes an object to push inward. In astronomy, in our case, gravity supplies the centripetal force. This is the reason why everything stays on the Earth and why objects fall. It is also the reason why the ocean stays where it is at.

This leads to the demonstration. I used a device called the Spill-not®. I placed a plastic cup of water in my hands and asked the class what would happen if I moved it around. The answer, of course, is that it will slosh around and possibly spill out if enough force is used.

I then placed it on the Spill-not® and spun it around. By action of centripetal force, the cup (and the water!) remained in place even when upside down.

spillnot2.jpg

The animation below shows how gravity keeps one down on the ground.

spaceapl.gif

The class then was essentially over after Chess Club and Science Olympiad were called.

Monday, February 03, 2014 The first day of school in the month of February! I have no idea about whether or not we do Valentine’s Day parties or not. I suppose it would be fine to have your child bring in goodies that are store-bought and wrapped along with Valentine’s Day cards. I will be sending home a list of the class roster as we get closer to that day. I really don’t feel comfortable putting your child’s name on my wiki since anyone with internet access can view my page.

I also would like to thank everyone who signed up for the text alert feature. I want to assure you that it will only be for school-related information and not commentary on sports, etc. Please sign up if you haven’t already done so at the top of this page.

Today we began like we normally did. The students came in and were greeted by this morning’s math warm-up activity. I did try an experiment and it appears to have been a success. I put the assignment on Socratic.com and had a student enter his/her answers. So, if you wish to check out Socratic, just go to www.socratic.comand click the student login at the top of the page. My room number is 514034.

The class also finished up their two posters that they were working on for a while. The large one was a group effort where they were given a poetic device and created an informational piece on it. The second one was also about a particular poetic device but this one was student-chosen. The student created a poem using that device and wrote it/illustrated it on a sheet of 3D paper. This will be put up on my large bulletin board in the hallway.

We also continued reading aloud Among the Enemy. We are about halfway through this book and I am confident that we will either finish this book and/or begin the last one (Among the Free) by the end of this week. I have not completely decided upon which book, nor which genre to explore afterwards but I know that I will have to figure it out quick. My class loves the read-alouds!!!!

We also went over three more idioms today. They are: "Barrel of laughs", "Bull in a china closet", and "Curiosity killed the cat."

barrel of laughs.jpg

Bull-in-a-china-closet.jpg

Curiosity killed the cat.png

I introduced a new initiative in my literacy block. The students are given a choice board which consists of nine options for assignments. They are to choose two of them and have them completed by the end of the week. Below is a copy of the choice board from today’s Smart Board notebook:

Literacy Choice Board Week of February 3 to 7.jpg

On the Smart Board

Literacy Choice Menu 2.jpg

page, this choice board remains up. Students who wish for clarification and guidelines for a particular assignment will tap the assignment which will take them to another page. For example, a student is interested in creating a crossword puzzle for one of the assignments wants some more explanation. So, the student taps the box........

..........and this page comes up:

Literacy Choice Menu 3.jpg

They just need to make sure that they tap the Return box at the bottom to return to the menu.
In math, we reviewed reducing fractions and then the students were given an assignment in their respective Singapore Math books. Tomorrow, we will continue with fractions and though I would like to go over adding with like denominators, I think it is best to cover improper and mixed numbers first followed by conversions from one to the other. For example, if I add 3/4

and 3/4 , the sum will be 6/4. Since that is an improper fraction (and a Fraction Faux-Pas – big no-no) it needs to be expressed as 1 2/4 which reduces to 1 1/2. I think it would be best to spend some time on that first before adding and subtracting.

I am posting the graphic below on my Math Help page for downloading.

Multiplication Grid.png

Tomorrow, the class will go to Ms. Allen’s for social studies. Since we lost two days last week, I am going to squeeze in some science with my class as well.

Lastly, my mobile app has been updated and I will continue to work on it.

Another weird week comes to pass as we finally have a normal day of school . Two days of being out really made today seem like a Monday since I was asking students if they were car riders going home.

Regardless, it was nice to be back. We had the warm-up as shown below. Plus, we did three idioms with the literal pictures.

Then we did the spelling test, which was interrupted by the new specials schedule on Fridays

(10:10-10:55). Afterwards, I had them use the tablets and computers to do a brief figurative language quiz on www.classmarker.com. I have used this website before when I taught at the middle school and posted all of my tests online. It has been, by far, the best and most reliable one. So, I am going to be using it from now on. I will be posting homework or other assignments on that so when I do, each parent will be given their child's unique log-in.

We also used the Socratic app/website today. This time it was much more successful. If you are able to, please allow your child to download the Socractic App on either the Appstore or Google Play.

Socratic is what we did in math today and it was a lot of fun reviewing and having student responses posted in real time on my iPad.

Lastly, I am sure you have noticed that there is a new form at the top of this page. Please fill it out since this will enable me to send you text updates. I will only be using this like my Twitter account in which only important and relevant information will be posted. I already have three parents who have signed up so far. Thank you very much! I will be sending out a test message later on today to try it out.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

School is dismissing two hours early due to inclement weather.
We did continue reading aloud as well as doing the warm-up. The class also started a mini-project in class where they chose a favorite poetic device (simile, metaphor, etc.) and wrote a poem using the device. Each student was given 3D paper to do this on and will be worked on tomorrow as well.

We also went over three idioms in our continued study of figurative language:

"A friend you can count on...."

a friend you can count on.png

"Close, but no cigar....."

close but no cigar.jpg

"Making your bed...."

making breakfast in bed.jpg

I have also made a mini-lesson on reducing fractions. You can find it here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Today was different in the sense that we began something new across the school called Hive Time. It is a designated block of 45 minutes where the students are placed in smaller groups to work on math and reading. This week and next week are for math and we will be switching off every two weeks. Hive time will be on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays after today.

The students had a shorter warm-up in the sense that there were only three questions and all of them were more open-ended.

We also continued with the second-to-last book in the Shadow Children series, Among the Enemy.

We did go over idioms and the one I did today was, "Dressed to Kill" which means to wear one's best clothes.

dressed to kill.jpg

In math, we are still focusing on reducing fractions. Tomorrow we are going to do only Singapore Math. I also assigned a project in math called 3D Fractions. The initial guidelines are listed below.

Math Project - 3D Fractions

What you are going to do is choose a fraction that is not in lowest form.

Then you are going to make a model of that fraction and another model of that fraction in lowest form (reduced). Thirdly, you need to explain step-by-step how you reduced your fraction.

Example: a student chooses the fraction 5/15 and makes a model of it by having five red cups and ten blue cups (because 5+10=15). Then, the student shows 5/15 as 1/3 by having 1 red cup and two blue cups.

You are free to model/represent it any way you like as long as your models are correct and your explanation makes sense.

Below is an example that I did:

Math Fraction Project Sample 2.jpg

The project is due on Monday, March 3rd. As I mentioned in the email to all parents, I want to give plenty of time to work on it as well as to answer any questions.

I am working on the rubric that I will use to grade the project and will be sending it as soon as it is ready.

Another two-hour delay greeted us but I suppose that wasn't a bad thing considering how cold it was this morning. I know how much I used to laugh at our region's response to cold and snow but since I have lived here for the majority of my life now (since August 3st, 1988) I understand.

I did some reading aloud and finished Among the Brave. We will begin Among the Enemy, which is the second-to-last book in the series on Monday.

I did assign the math homework and hopefully all of you received the email. Please let me know if you cannot print it and I will make sure your child has a hard copy on Monday.

Math Homework for the Week of January 27 to 31.pdf

Lastly, clubs began today. I am not doing Techno-Bees this time around since I was asked to take over Ms. Gerst's coaching role for Science Olympiad.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I had to leave early due to illness.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 The students returned from a four-day weekend to find the room in a different arrangement.

New Class Arrangement.JPG

As I mentioned in the email to all parents sent yesterday, I wanted to make a few changes as we start the second half of the year. Hopefully, this new arrangement will alleviate some of the distractions that were occurring beforehand.

The morning work was more fraction-based again but with a few added twists to make it more interesting rather than the same, usual kind of stuff.

In literacy, we continued reading aloud from Among the Brave in which the main character of this book was a minor character in the previous books. But, the author has shown that she likes to mix things up and tell parts of the story from different perspectives.

After the read aloud, we continued going over idioms with “I’ve got your back” and “Raining cats and dogs.” The students shared what the literal and figurative meanings of each idiom meant and then were shown a literal picture.

Ive Got Your Back.jpg

rain-cats-n-dogs.jpg

Next, I went over different types of figurative language/poetic devices that were the most common:

Simile – a comparison using “like” or “as”; “Like water off of a duck’s back.”

Metaphor – a direct comparison; “I am a rock. I am an island.” (Simon and Garfunckle)

Personification – assigning human-like characteristics to nonhuman objects; “The wind yelled in a rage trying to blow down the house.”

Hyperbole – an exaggeration; “I told you ten thousand times to clean up your room!!!!”

Alliteration – the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables; “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”

Onomatopoeia - words that imitate sounds; "boom!"

The class then did a brief in-class assignment on figurative language.

Afterwards, we did not rotate like normal. First, this is a short week and second, they were given time to finish up any missing/incomplete/incorrectly done assignments from Ms. Allen’s social studies class since the grades need to be in.

In math, we continued with reducing fractions using greatest common factor as well as went over the math assessment that was given out on Friday. The assessment was not for a grade but merely to see where we are and where we need to go. I can still see a lot of need for reviewing the geometry part of it as well as problem solving.

In science, I kept my class this week and began the Earth and space science unit. I showed them a 20-minute video on the solar system and then they did an in-class quiz based on the video. We also had a brief discussion of gravity and how it keeps the planets in their respective orbits.

This will be very short since I was in all day planning - planning out next quarter's focus of study. I will say that I am very excited about what is coming up, especially in science where the focus moves to Earth in the Universe (astronomy and geology).
Since:

A) I was in planning all day long and had to prepare for having a sub and;
B) Next week is a short week:

There will be no assigned spelling words nor math homework. BUT, don't be surprised if I assign homework on Wednesday or Thursday.

Also, the club sign-up sheet was given to your child. I am not doing Techno-Bees this time around since I was asked to help out with Science Olympiad. That is something I am very excited about. I know.....Mr. Miller doing something associated with science.....who would have thought?

Lastly, each girl in the class was given a yellow Girls On the Run sign-up form.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Today was much closer to normal. The only thing different was that they had to go to a different room for specials (media) since the media center has all of the science fair projects on display. The science fair parent night is tonight from 6:00-8:30. I will not be able to attend but I made sure every student has a certificate in front of their projects. I should add, WONDERFUL projects!

Tomorrow, I will not be "here" in the sense that it is the third grade teachers full day planning. However, I will still have plenty of work for the students.

The students also did a little better on the warm-up this morning as well as reducing fractions. That is a good sign. At least they won't have to worry about fractions as much tomorrow. Tomorrow, the third grade will be administering a math assessment (3rd Grade Benchmark January).

We also finished reading aloud Among the Barons and dove right in to Among the Brave. In this book, the main character changes.

We also continued going over idioms with Pulling My Leg and Surfing the Web:

Idiom Pulling My Leg.jpg

Idiom Surf the Web.jpg

Afterwards, we watched an old cartoon from 1951 called Symphony in Slang. In this cartoon, the character has gone to Heaven and St. Peter couldn't understand what he was saying due to his slang words,( "What's cookin'?", etc.). He then brings the character to Noah Webster where the character tells his life story using slang. Mr. Webster listens and visualizes it literally. The students chose one of the idioms/slang expressions and explained its meaning and then wrote a summary of the cartoon. Below is the cartoon.....

In math, we continued with reducing fractions using greatest common factor. What I am seeing in those who are still iffy on it is comprised of either or both of two things: 1) Not knowing the multiplication facts completely; 2) Forgetting a part of a procedure. Both of these are minor and I am confident that they are correctable.

In science, we did day three of heat/energy transfer and graphing. This time, I had four containers of water:

1) Boiling
2) Hot (≈120°) - I know the label is 100° but I decided to make it a little hotter.
3) Room temperature
4) Cold (sitting in a refrigerator all day)

I also took four small plastic drinking cups and filled them with water before placing them in the freezer all day long. This time I just measured temperature in Fahrenheit.

Thursday Science 1.jpg

We again took a temperature reading of all four water containers and recorded them. Next, I added a block of ice to each one. The ice would then sit in the water for 30 minutes (2:05-2:35). During this time, I went over constructing a triple bar graph.

After 30 minutes, I took another two temperature readings from each container. The first was the water temperature after 30 minutes and the second one involved a small electric mixer. Interestingly enough, the temperature of the water rose roughly one degree. This was due to the water being agitated and in motion. This motion of the water was due to an increase in energy which slightly raised the temperature.

After the final data was recorded, we made our triple bar graphs. Again, using the Smart Board is difficult so it isn't as attractive as I would have liked.

Today we had a shortened literacy class due to the science fair judging. My class and Ms. Allen’s class went to the media center. Each student stood by his/her project and was prepared to answer any questions from the judges.
We did, however, still have a warm-up.

I have also begun assigning the next project which is a book report. This one will be more multimedia-based and more information will be given soon.

In math, we continued with fractions and reducing them to their lowest form using greatest common factor. There is still a lot of confusion on it so this is a skill that we will be focusing on as well as using Singapore Math to review.

After math, we had science. Today’s science was a continuation of yesterday’s focus on heat/energy transfer. This time, we collected data on two different items. The first one was a cold beaker of water and another one had heated water. Both beakers were filled to 900ml of water.

Wednesday Science 1a.JPG

I am using Celsius since that is what the rest of the world uses

The task at hand was to predict and then record which beaker (hot or cold) would experience the sharpest drop in temperature after having an ice sphere introduced. Again, the water was measured using probes from a digital thermometer.

Wednesday Science 2.JPG

Afterwards, the data would be plotted on a line graph but this time using two lines of data. In addition, we will be using Celsius as a measurement instead of Fahrenheit. This makes it easier to plot on a graph as well as becoming more familiar with the unit of measurement for temperature that the rest of the world uses.

Below is what I wrote on the Smart Board. Since I am limited by how imprecise it is, I was at a disadvantage.

Today the science fair projects are due. It is all over so now the kids can breathe easier until I give them something else. The judging of the projects will be tomorrow morning so my fingers are crossed!

I have to say that I am very impressed by what I have seen of the projects that were turned in. I was not expecting this high quality from third graders who are doing this for the first time. I told the class that they will have a tough time next year outdoing themselves. Good job!!!
The class did a good job on today’s warm up.

In literacy, I went over idioms which are slang expressions that use figurative language. I gave them two examples: happy camper and letting the cat out of the bag.
The class first explained that a happy camper is an expression for being happy and content. I then showed them an illustration of the literal meaning:

Tuesday Idiom 1.png

Next, we did the expression Letting the Cat Out of the Bag which means to reveal a secret.

Tuesday Idiom 2.png

The activity following this was to choose two things:

1) A sheet of colored paper
2) An idiom

The students then wrote their idiom on the paper with a brief description of its figurative meaning. Then, they drew a picture of what it would literally be like.

Math was short today due to our assigned time of 1:10 to set up at the science fair. Each student was assigned a number and had to cover any name.

In science, we did the first experiment from last week that I had conducted with Ms. Allen’s class.
This is what we did. I filled two silicone ice molds that I purchased from Thinkgeek that makes ice in the shape of

Wednesday Science 1.jpg

the Star Wars Death Star. I did this yesterday morning and left them outside my classroom window all day, all night, and all day today as well. Yes, they were frozen SOLID and I have never been able to make them look as good as the picture. Perhaps I should spray the interior with a lubricant like olive oil next time.

Anyway, I also had a beaker with boiling water. I took a temperature reading of the water and had the students record it. I then placed the ice inside the beaker with hot water. Every five minutes, we would take the water’s temperature and record it.

Tuesday Science 1.JPG

While the water was cooling, I went over with the class the different types of graphs and their uses.

For the circle graph, which shows parts to a whole out of a total number, I surveyed the class on their favorite color.

Tuesday Graph 1.png

For the bar graph, which compares data but doesn’t need a total, I randomly generated numbers for a fictional science test among a set of students.

Tuesday Graph 2.png

For the line graph, which is for changes over time, I had a fictional series of weekly science tests for a made up student.

Tuesday Graph 3.png

I created a spreadsheet using Excel and the Randbetween function to generate random numbers and then graph them. I did this with different types of graphs. Since line graphs measure changes over time, it was determined that this type of graph was to be used for the activity.
At the sixth temperature reading, we stopped and made a line graph of the data.

Tuesday Graph 4.png

We will also be doing another experiment along the same lines simultaneously tomorrow too with colder water and ice.

We begin a new week and a full week with no foreseeable issues with the weather. That is a relief to get back into a routine!

The students came in to a warm-up that they showed mastery of. So, tomorrow’s will continue to be fraction-based but perhaps a little more challenging.

We began with going over figurative vs. literal language with the students noting any non-literal words and sayings from the read-aloud. They then wrote down one on a Post-It Note and stuck it to an anchor chart.

I also managed to finish Among the Betrayed and started Among the Barons. In this book, Luke returns as the main character who has finally gotten comfortable being at Hendricks School for Boys. He was happy until his "younger brother" becomes a student there. This student, Smits, is the younger brother of the deceased boy whose identity Luke had assumed when he came out of hiding. Awkward is truly an understatement when both boys have to pretend to be brothers. In Luke's case, his life truly depends on the ruse being successful.

This entry will be shorter than the previous two since there isn’t as much to write about. The class had the warm-up and I feel that they did a better job of it today.

In literacy, I continued with reading aloud Among the Betrayed and are now getting towards the end of that book as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if one week from now I am writing about getting close to finishing the next book, Among the Barons. I suppose I had better start looking into another series down the road.

The class also got to spend some good time doing independent reading as well as taking the spelling test. To be truthful, I was surprised by how well the class did overall on the spelling test considering that the words were given out three weeks ago.

In math, we did fractions and estimating where they would fall on a number line. I think this one was a bit too much so I am going to slow down next week and focus on greatest common factor and then reducing fractions. This will also help them see the relationship between fractions that are equivalent.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class had a quiz on heat/energy transfer as well as taking the information from their graphs and using it to answer a few questions. There were other questions on energy and the last one involved taking information and creating a graph. I would estimate that about half of the class was not finished so Ms. Allen agreed to make time on Monday for them to finish it up.

Lastly, the science fair projects are due on Tuesday. We are not expecting perfection nor slick presentations. As long as the students made an honest effort, they will be fine. Then, at last it will all be over (and I get to remove the countdown widget from my wiki page too).

Today was strange in the sense that it was a normal day with a normal schedule. Though I was getting used to the two-hour delay (and enjoying it!), I am glad to be back in the routine.

Tomorrow is the spelling test and the math homework is due.

The students had a warm-up but struggled with it. I decided to not make it count as a grade since it was very challenging considering how I did not really go over equivalent fractions as much.

I know that they are doing well with comparing fractions according to value by using division, but I still feel that they need some more reminders on specifics. It isn’t that they don’t understand the division part, it is that a lot of students are getting the order of division mixed up. To convert the fraction into a decimal, one divides the numerator by the denominator. This is very counterintuitive since they are dividing a small number by a larger number resulting in a decimal that is less than one. A lot of students do it the other way around and that is where tomorrow’s focus will be.

In reading, I finished the book Among the Imposters and began reading Among the Betrayed. In this book, the main character shifts from Luke to a girl named “Nina” (her assumed name shown on her fake ID). She was introduced in the previous book and is too an illegal third child who was betrayed and arrested by the Population Police.

In the Population Police jail, she was interrogated and treated harshly and was given a choice: befriend and betray three other illegal third children who have been arrested or be executed. Neither choice is good and in fact is a terrible dilemma.

In math, as I mentioned above, we continued with comparing fractions.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class did the follow-up activity plus two more. I began the class with an experiment using my brand new science toy: a magnetic stirrer. It had arrived by Fedex literally an hour and a half prior to science class (during lunch) so I decided that it would be a good warm-up.

A magnetic stirrer is used in labs for mixing fluids and instead of using a stir rod, there is a magnet at the bottom of the container that spins causing a vortex to form and stirring the liquids into a solution. I showed two different kinds: one that is pill-shaped measuring about 1 ¼ inches. The other one is wider with eight blades on it.

Thursday Science 1.jpg

magnet 1.jpg

magnet 2.png

The students hypothesized which one would create the biggest vortex. Almost all of them chose the eight-bladed flat one and they were right.

The next experiment involved having two 1000ml beakers filled with 1000ml of water. One beaker was refrigerated while the other’s water was at room temperature. I again placed digital thermometer probes into the water along with a Death Star-shaped ice ball. Which one would melt the ice the fastest? We hypothesized and left nature to its course.

Thursday Science 2.JPG

The last phase of the class was to take the data from yesterday and create a line graph, since that is best suited for measuring changes over time. I went over the best way to construct a line graph, and let the students complete their work. When their graphs were finished, they needed to write an explanation about how this experimented on the transfer of heat energy. Below is what they graph should look like.

Thursday Graph.png

Panthers.jpg

Lastly, tomorrow all CMS students and staff are encouraged to wear Panther pride gear tomorrow to support an organization that has done so much for CMS. Go Panthers!!!!

Two days in a row where school is on a two hour delay is something that I have never experienced in all of my years of teaching, especially in CMS. To delay the opening of school in a system as large as ours is a very rare occurrence. In years past, it was always easier to simply cancel school for the day. But, the good news is that delayed days don’t have to be made up. The bad news is that I can REALLY get used to sleeping later. Oh well.

Since this was a shorter day, the math assessment was not administered since it was supposed to start at 9:30.

But, despite the delayed opening and shortened day, the students came in to another warm-up that is more focused on fractions. Tomorrow, we will continue with Singapore Math and fractions. It will be more of a half Singapore Math and half fractions type of day.

After the warm-up, I read aloud from Among the Imposters where things get weirder and weirder. These books, as I have mentioned earlier, are very quick reads, so we are zipping right along. After the read-aloud, I had the students do their own independent reading until we had indoor recess again.

Despite the temperature being warmer than yesterday, I felt that staying inside was the best course of action. Of course, the students LOVED it since they were able to use their tech devices (or mine).

After lunch, which was again pushed back 30 minutes, we had math. Today’s focus in math was using their knowledge of place value, decimals, and division to determine which fraction was greater. For example, if you have the fractions ⅜ and ½ and need to figure out which one is greater, one method is to use division.

That was part of yesterday’s lesson in math. We went over the numerator and denominator and I showed the class that the fraction bar really means to divide. ¾ is really 3÷4 which is 0.75. It is true because 3 equal parts out of 4 is less than one.

Getting back to the example: you divide 3 by 8 to get 0.375 and divide 1 by 2 to get 0.5. By using knowledge of place value, you line up the decimals to compare…….

0.375
0.5

The number in the one’s place (0) is the same, so we move to the right and go past the decimal to the tenths place. Five is definitely greater than three so it holds true that ½ is greater than ⅜ (½>⅜).

The class then had an assignment doing just what I showed above. This was an activity where they can self-check under the black light with the answers written in invisible ink.

After math, our classes switched. Ms. Allen’s class came to me for science where I am finishing up on energy and basically physics too. I need to start getting into earth and space science (YES!!!!!) but I wanted to do one last activity.

Wednesday Science 1.jpg

This is what we did. I filled two silicone ice molds that I purchased from Thinkgeek that makes ice in the shape of the Star Wars Death Star. I did this yesterday morning and left them outside my classroom window all day, all night, and all day today as well. Yes, they were frozen SOLID and I have never been able to make them look as good as the picture. Perhaps I should spray the interior with a lubricant like olive oil next time.

Anyway, I also had a beaker with boiling water. I took a temperature reading of the water and had the students record it. I then placed the ice inside the beaker with hot water. Every five minutes, we would take the water’s temperature and record it.

Wednesday Science 2.JPG

While the water was cooling, I went over with the class the different types of graphs and their uses.

For the circle graph, which shows parts to a whole out of a total number, I surveyed the class on their favorite color.

Wednesday Circle Graph.png

For the bar graph, which compares data but doesn’t need a total, I randomly generated numbers for a fictional science test among a set of students.

Wednesday Bar Graph.png

For the line graph, which is for changes over time, I had a fictional series of weekly science tests for a made up student.

Wednesday Line Graph.png

I created a spreadsheet using Excel and the Randbetween function to generate random numbers and then graph them. I did this with different types of graphs. Since line graphs measure changes over time, it was determined that this type of graph was to be used for the activity.

By the time we took the fourth temperature measurement, class was over. So we are going to continue this tomorrow by taking the recorded data and constructing a line graph along with going over HOW to construct one.

We will also be doing another experiment along the same lines simultaneously tomorrow too with colder water and ice.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Due to the two-hour delay, things were definitely not normal today. It was weird, like a teacher workday when the morning bell rings but no kids come, yet they eventually did. Strange. So, they came in to a warm-up that involves a little review with a few fraction-based questions to get them acclimated to fractions since that is what we are covering now.

I continued reading aloud Among the Imposters for a long time and then had the students do indoor recess with either their own devices or one of mine. Thanks to the donation of two more laptops, that makes internet access available to even more students. Thanks so much!!!

Due to the delayed start to the day, everyone’s lunch schedule was moved up 30 minutes. After lunch, we had about 20 minutes of math allowing the students to finish up their morning work and then go over it. After the brief math period, the class went to specials (science lab). Upon returning to class, we did more math with an introduction to fractions.

Today’s fraction lesson was covering the basics such as the numerator and denominator, what fractions are (an equal PART of a whole – equal being the key), and what the fraction bar means (divide – it is the numerator divided by the denominator; the top number divided by the bottom number. It will be less than one, of course, but that is what a fraction is. ½ is 1 ÷ 2, which is 0.5).
The students were then given an in-class activity that was two pages in length.
Despite the seemingly lengthiness of the activity, it wasn’t that difficult or daunting since it was identifying which fraction was true. For example, which fraction below represents 3/10 ?

Tuesday math graphic.png

Groups one and two are split up ten ways while group three is split up nine ways. That eliminates group 3. While both groups 1 and 2 have three out of ten, only group 1 has ten EQUAL groupings. This makes group 1 the only correct answer.

Tomorrow will not be a normal day either. Though the low temperature is forecast to be bitterly cold like this morning, we have not yet received any word on whether this will result in a delay or not. If there is no delay, the third grade will be taking a math assessment that will be scanned just like the EOG at the end of the year. It will consist of about 35-36 questions on material that has already been covered to give us a good idea of where they are.

Of course, everything is subject to change so we shall see.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year! I hope your two weeks was relaxing and refreshing. Mine was a paradox of time flying yet standing still. It is difficult to explain it, I suppose. On one hand, the days were zipping by one-by-one in decorating, buying both food and gifts, decorating, etc. On the other hand, it seemed as if I have been away for a month.

Regardless of one’s perception of time’s passage, school has begun anew in the sense that it is like the first day again. Though the students did return to having a warm-up assignment, I still devoted some time to review the expectations and procedures. It never hurts to go over the mundane.

Before reviewing what we did today for our first day back, I wanted to let you know that I added a new feature to this section of the wiki page. I have a comment section below from Disqus, just like a lot of newspapers, higher quality blogs, magazines, etc. You are encouraged to leave comments since this will help make my wiki page more interactive.

In literacy, we began reading the second book of the Shadow Children series, Among the Imposters. The main character is Luke, an illegal third child (a “shadow”) has come out of hiding with the assistance of his neighbor. His neighbor, the father of his now-deceased friend, has managed to get him an ID of a boy who has recently passed away, allowing Luke to assume this identity. He is also going to live in a boys’ boarding school under this assumed name.
We also continued with the rotations and independent reading.

I have also received the January issue of Scholastic Storyworks. Each student is given a copy which they will be responsible for. This subscription gives teachers access to printable activities that correlate with each issue’s content.

In math, we continued with averaging for today. I didn’t want to introduce any new content and decided that averaging was a good topic since it incorporates adding, division, and rounding.

After a brief review, the class had an in-class averaging activity consisting of twenty sets of numbers that needed to be averaged. The only stipulation was that the average had to be rounded to the nearest hundredth in the event of a decimal quotient.

Reminders: the spelling words and homework that were sent out on Friday, December 20th are due this Friday. The science fair projects are due the 14th so there is still time to work on it.

This is going to be the last post until we return in January. We will still be doing the warm up assignments on the board and I will be posting them but that will be about it.

Also, the class party is Friday at 2:30. If you would like to bring stuff in that would be great!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I am sorry that there was no post yesterday but our grade level meeting took the entire time. Of course, this being the week before the winter break there really isn't much to discuss or write about.

The students still are doing the math warm-ups each morning and will do so tomorrow along with Thursday and Friday.

Of I have also been reading aloud These Happy Golden Years and getting very close to the end. It is possible that tomorrow (or even today) that I will finish it. At this point in the story, Laura is 18 years old and is officially engaged to Almanzo. She has finished teaching her third school and will no longer return to being a student. Almanzo is building their future house on his tree claim while Laura and her mother are busily sewing away to make sure she has enough clothing, bedding, etc. to begin her life away from home. However, despite their planning to be married in the autumn there is a surprise in store and the students will find out this afternoon when they return (I am writing this while they are in specials).

Update: I have finished These Happy Golden Years. I still have no plans on reading The First Four Years. I will begin reading Among the Hidden tomorrow and thus will begin the Shadow Children series. This is definitely a departure from the historical fiction/biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and go into a fictional distopian world of the near future.

On Friday morning, I am planning on showing them the Little House on the Prairie pilot movie from 1974 in which they can compare and contrast it with the actual books.

In math, we continued with both Singapore Math and averaging. Tomorrow I am going to teach them range, median, and mode and that will be the last of any math instruction until we return.

In science, I am showing them an interesting video from a project called Symphony of Science. This is a very creative effort in which the speeches and other talks from scientists are set to music. I am showing them my favorite one called, The Case For Mars featuring the late Dr. Carl Sagan. It is creative but kind of weird too.

[ invalid file: Symphony of Science - 'The Case for Mars' (ft. Zubrin, Sagan, Cox & Boston) - YouTube [240p].flv ]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Today was another open house and we had two different visitors. Hopefully, we made a good impression on them and that they enjoyed their visit.

We also read more of These Happy Golden Years and are definitely on track to finishing the book sometime next week. My hope, as I mentioned yesterday, is to have them watch the actually movie/pilot and note the similarities and differences.

They also had a nice warm-up activity that lasted into the actual math class.

The class did the rotations in addition to the spelling test. As usual, almost all of them did very wellon the test. There are no spelling words for next week since that is the week before the two-week break over the holidays.

With that in mind, I am also not assigning homework for next week. We did an averaging activity and the students went online to review division, at least the ones whose tech devices supported Flash files. That is very frustrating but at least there were far fewer issues involved with getting online this time.

But before the tech activity, I did a demonstration of average and how it really works with a real application. I took five empty 100ml graduated cylinders and filled them with the following capacities: 60, 10, 40, 20, and 80 ml. I then added a drop of red food coloring to each cylinder to make it easier to see.

Average Activity Picture 1.JPG

Next, I explained that average is taking the differing amounts and combining them into a common place.

Average Activity Picture 2.JPG

Third, averaging is taking that combined amount and distributing it equally among the group, sort of like mathematical socialism if you think about it. But, the formula is to take add up the set and divide by the number in the group. In this case, there are five different cylinders in the group so the number is divided by five to get the average of 42 ml.

Average Activity Picture 3.JPG

Lastly, some of the graded papers as well as the progress reports were sent home with your child. You need not sign nor return them but as always, please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reminder1: spelling test tomorrow

Reminder2: tech time tomorrow

We began reading These Happy Golden Years today. When we first met Laura, she was a five year old living in the woods of Wisconsin. Now, she is a fifteen year old and beginning to teach school. It is a difficult transition for her. On Friday, she was a student and on Monday she is the teacher of a school of five. She has never before been away from home and how she must live twelve miles away. To make matters worse, the wife of the family she lives with is sullen and very quarrelsome. But, to save her from her misery Almanzo Wilder comes and takes her home over the weekend.

Next week in literacy I will be doing figurative and literal language with idioms. This unit of study has always been a lot of fun and very educational at the same time. I am looking forward to doing it but also in doing it in January when we return.

Today I also finished DIBELS so there in itself is a reason to be thankful since that is over with for a few months. Tomorrow we will be doing our spelling test but I am not assigning any spelling words for next week. The last week of school before the winter break will otherwise go on as normally as possible but with a bit more reading aloud. My goal is to finish These Happy Golden Years by Thursday and have the class watch the original Little House on the Prairie movie from 1974 to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the movie and the book(s).

When we return in January, I will begin reading aloud Among the Hidden.

In math, I continued with average/mean since it involves adding and dividing. I also assigned more pages in the Singapore Math books. The homework for next week will be doing assigned pages in the Singapore Math books as well.

Lastly, the Power School issue has been resolved and papers will be going home tomorrow.
This is a copy of the text from the email:

Subject: PowerTeacher Grade Book Issue
PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO ALL STAFF. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.
PowerTeacher Gradebook is back up and running. Please note that the blue arrow has returned to the right of the word Gradebook in the Navigation pane. It appears that we will no longer have to use the CMS work around.
Thank you.

I am down to one more loose end to tie up for DIBELS and that will be all! I am glad to get that over with since it takes up a lot of time. In all though, I am pleased to see a LOT of growth in my students.

Today we are also finishing up Little Town on the Prairie and tomorrow we will begin the last full novel of the series, These Happy Golden Years. Though a lot goes on with this book, it does make me sad to be finishing it up. Students are more than welcome to read The First Four Years if they want to as well as the other books that are not written by Laura (The Caroline Years, the Rose Years, etc.).

The students also did the warm-up activity and did a pretty decent job on it. I think the issue now is just reading the text in the word problems carefully to determine which operation is needed vs. actually not being able to solve the problem.

In math, we continued with Singapore Math by working in the respective books. The students also took a five minute timed multiplication facts quiz that was not graded. I am not planning on grading them. They are just practice so the students can see for themselves which facts they are lacking in, such as the "12's" for example.

Tomorrow, I will be continuing to reinforce material that has been covered just to keep it fresh. They will also continue working in the Singapore Math books too. I want to make sure that everything up to this point has been mastered well enough for us to move into the fraction unit. But, before doing fractions I would like to build a foundation of knowledge in the basics such as factors, greatest common factor, multiples, and least common multiple. This too will require them to know their multiplication facts so I am going to be giving them the timed facts quizzes much more frequently.

I am also still waiting on the Power School issue to be resolved. Below is the text of the email that all of us have received.

From: PowerSchoolHelpDesk

Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:20 AM

To: Elementary Data Managers List; Middle School Data Managers; High School Data Managers

Subject: PowerTeacher Grade book Issue PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO ALL STAFF. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.
We are still experiencing an issue logging in to the PowerTeacher Grade book. This issue has been reported to the state and we will update you as soon as we have a resolution. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Thank you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I have been DIBELing away and I am now thinking that tomorrow will be the last day baring something unexpected. I only have a few more students and a couple of students who need to make up something that was administered last week. Then, that is it until the final one. I am THINKING that it is March or April and not February (or May!). We shall see.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Little Town on the Prairie. As I mentioned earlier, this is my favorite book in the entire serious though all of them are wonderful in their own way. Almanzo Wilder is now a full-fledged main character and his sister Eliza Jane is back and Laura's old nemesis Nellie Olson. Eliza Jane is the teacher, Nellie is the teacher's pet, and the drama is on! It just keeps getting interesting.

We also continued with the rotations and as I mentioned above, I am hoping that tomorrow is the final day of DIBELS. I know that its deadline is Friday but I want it behind us so we can focus on our routine.

In math, I introduced average/mean for the warm-up activity. The reason being is that I felt it was a good approach to reinforce reading skills, following directions, and applying what they already should know (adding and dividing).

I then passed out the Singapore Math books to each student and gave both groups a brief activity. Singapore Math books will be used as supplements to what I am doing since it does math in a slightly different way than me (and being exposed to that is a good thing) and it serves as a good practice too. It will sometimes be used as homework and sometimes for morning work. I do plan on going through the first book briskly.

I still could not access PowerSchool's gradebook but I will definitely notify you with an email blast once this issue is resolved.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Today we did the warm up and I think that I need to do a better job of explaining exactly how the students are supposed to connect the points on the grid in order to figure out the area. That will be done tomorrow.

We also continued reading aloud Little Town on the Prairie as well as continued doing the rotations. They did get some good independent reading time in while I continued with DIBELS. I am about half-way through and I am going to go all-out tomorrow and Wednesday to finish them up so that can be over and done with until March or April. I am hoping it is March since April is going to be a sort-of crunch time in getting prepared for the tests at the end of the year.

In math, I had the students correct their tests but before I did that, I did review a few concepts to make sure that everyone understood what is asked. The Singapore Math books are ready to go out tomorrow and half of the class will be devoted to doing that. Since a lot of the concepts in the books have already been covered (numeration, multiplication, etc), I plan on going through them at a brisk pace until we get to division, fractions, and decimals.

Lastly, I am not able to send out the progress reports home today. Powerschool's grade book is down and I have not been able to access it all day. We did receive an email stating that the state has been notified so hopefully (HOPEFULLY) that will be corrected as soon as humanly (and technologically) possible.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Friday! Today, we finished The Long Book - I mean, The Long Winter. It is always difficult to get through but at last it was finished. I was able to start my FAVORITE book of the series, Little Town on the Prairie. It is the second-to-last book and there is a lot that goes on.

While I did give out the morning work, I don't feel that I did a good enough job explaining the first problem so I didn't count it.

We also continued with context clues. I did an interactive read aloud finishing up the Long Winter by writing a sample sentence from the text. Students were each given a Post-It Note and wrote the context clues for the word clamoring and what its meaning is based on the clues.

Friday Interactive Read Aloud.JPG

We also did the spelling test. Due to the time, I did

not have the time to copy down the new spelling words so each student was given a printed copy. We then did the rotations.

In math, I administered the math test, collected the math homework, and gave out next week's homework.

Also, I sent home some papers. One of them is the Beginning-of-Year test results. Please remember that this is a measure, a snapshot, of how your child did in September. However, I am going to have to really work hard to show growth for a lot of students.

I am also sending home progress reports on Monday along with graded work.

Lastly, I am continuing to upgrade my wiki page with new features as they become available. Please let me know what you think and/of have any suggestions. And, please be sure to keep checking the Math Help page for more mini-lessons as they become available.

Note: the spelling and math tests are tomorrow and the math homework is due.

I also added my Twitter feeds to the home page.

Today we continued with both the rotations and reading aloud The Long Winter. Today's warm-up activity consisted of two problems but they were different in the sense that they required reading skills as well as following instructions. Instead of merely dividing up an irregular figure and solving for area, the class had to follow instructions and plot points on a coordinate grid and THEN divide it up to calculate the area.

I also continued with DIBELS and I am thrilled with the level of progress in both fluency and retelling.

In math, today's focus was on applying knowledge of division (both whole numbers and decimals) by problem solving. This too requires reading carefully and understanding/comprehending what is read. I also went over FOSP (Find the numbers to work with; Operation - what do you do with the numbers?; Solve; Prove).

Thursday In Class Problem Solving With Division.pdf

I also recorded a mini-lesson on dividing a whole number by a decimal

In science, we did an experiment involving mass, density, and gravity. Each student had a plastic golf ball and a sheet of paper to see which would drop first. The ball dropped faster until the paper was crumbled into a ball, which demonstrates how density and mass don't affect how objects fall.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

There was no more MAP testing but I did continue with DIBELS. We also continued reading aloud The Long Winter and are more than halfway through that particular book. As I mentioned before, I go through books rather briskly.

Today's warm-up consisted of four math questions covering the usual except for one in which they had to determine which operation should be used to solve the problem rather than solving it. In other words, HOW does one go about solving this problem and why vs. just solving it.

Tomorrow's warm-up will have only two questions, both involving area. This time though, instead of simply dividing up the irregular figure into rectangles/squares and triangles, they will have to carefully read and follow instructions to first construct the figure on a coordinate grid THEN solve for area.

In math, we continued with division but it was totally independent today. The students were divided up into groups of 3-4 and each group was given four of the ten-sided dice. They rolled the dice and chose which three were the dividend and which one was the divisor. It was also their choice as to where the decimal(s) went.

In science, we continued with energy and heat.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Today was day two of the MAP testing and this time it was for reading. It was on time and on schedule, which was during math, so I found it was necessary to do math when we returned from specials. I was also doing the mid-year DIBELS testing which should be concluded by Friday.

The students came in and had a longer warm-up than before. I think it was perhaps a little too long since a lot of them were not finished despite being given fifteen extra minutes. I will definitely be making it consist of four problems tomorrow.

Reminder: the homework and spelling words are due Friday.

Today we began the second shortest month of the school year. While it may be the shortest in chronological time, I have no intention of slowing down and not challenging my students - especially in math!

This week, the DIBELS testing window has opened so I am going to be devoting time during literacy for that. Also, students are doing MAP testing (Measure of Academic Progress) today and tomorrow. I was originally scheduled to do this during math but we were delayed due to students taking longer than anticipated.

So, I am still going to do my best to keep the rotations and other literacy instruction as close to normal as possible.

In math, we continued with division. Since they have obviously mastered long division, I gave them some practice with division involving decimals both in the dividend and divisor. It is a bit tricky but I did record a mini-lesson for both:

All mini-lessons are also available on the Math Help page.

Happy Tuesday/Virtual Friday! We began day two of our two-day week with a warm-up that built upon prior skills just as always. The one thing is that I added a division problem were there was a remainder but instead of writing it as such, they had to solve it as a decimal quotient. As I told them yesterday, it was time to “grow up” in terms of division. I also kept to our normal schedule as much as I could control internally. I also am doing something different. While I have the warm-up activity available for downloading, I have all three in one file rather than three different files since that takes a lot of time (warm-up, full color version, answer key).

In literacy, as I mentioned above, I kept to the rotations and continued with the interactive read aloud of The Long Winter. The one change I made was that students were given extra time to read independently. We also focused some on fact vs. opinion. Next week we will be going over context clues.

For recess, we stayed inside due to the rain and cold. We could have gone out and had recess under the roof but I felt that it was too damp and cold outside for that.

In math, I continued with division with decimals in the quotient. There is a Thanksgiving activity that was sent out but I decided to focus on this instead since it would have meant using up a lot of copies. This activity had the answer key written in invisible ink where the students self-checked under the black light at the back.

There was a challenge division problem with a 14-digit dividend on the back. I don’t have any electronic copies to download but I do have the challenge below:

Tuesday Challenge Division.png

In science, I kept my promise of showing them the two videos on the dangers of deep frying a turkey. I went over how a turkey needs to be thawed properly first. Putting a frozen turkey into the hot oil is dangerous since heat will transfer from hot to cold. When the hot oil interacts with the frozen turkey, the frozen moisture will change from solid to liquid. Liquid takes up more volume than a solid since the atoms and molecules are spread out more, causing it to expand. With that expansion, the moisture mixes with the hot oil along with the added volume of the turkey that causes the oil to overflow. Since the oil is combustible, as soon as it hits the flame of the burner beneath it, a huge flame erupts until the fuel is burned up.

I just love this time of the year! With only two days this week and then a nice long Thanksgiving Break, what’s not to like? Yet, despite this approaching holiday I am still determined to keep your child engaged and challenged. Experience has taught me that this is the best approach since students are understandably excited (just as the teachers are too – trust me!), is to keep them busy with relevant learning content. That is education-speak (“educanese”) for keep them working so they don’t do wild.

They came in to find the warm-up activity both on the Smart Board and on their desks as a graded assignment. Below are both the activity and the answer key.

I continued reading the next book in the Little House on the Prairie series called The Long Winter. This is the sixth book in the eight-book series and it is also considered to be the least fictional of her books so far. This one is pretty accurate in describing the winter of 1880-1881 that was bitterly cold and with blizzards from October to April. The people in the upper Midwest still refer to it as the Hard Winter. That was actually the working title of her book when it was submitted for publishing in 1939/1940. However, the publishing company thought that the word “hard” was no appropriate for children so it was changed to The Long Winter.

In literacy, to keep normality I did the rotations and focused on the reading skill of fact vs. opinion. This is an important reading comprehension skill that helps with the development of critical thinking. Fact is something that can be proven while an opinion is how someone thinks/feels/believes. It may or may not be true. Mastering this skill will make your child a more independent thinker and less likely to be swayed by manipulative advertisements and propaganda. “The sky is blue” is considered a fact since it is provable. “The color blue is the most beautiful” is an opinion since that can never be proven and it is merely what someone thinks. Someone else could just as easily say the same thing about green or any other color in the spectrum.

To make it a little more interesting, I introduced them to a band called Rockin’ the Standards which is made up of former teachers. I have the entire Language Arts CD downloaded and played for them the song Fact and Opinion with the lyrics on the Smart Board. I am attaching the song and lyrics for you to check out as well if you’re interested.

Then we did a brief fact vs. opinion activity in class before doing rotations.

In math I decided to change my plans. I know that I mentioned doing problem solving this week but after thinking about it while blowing leaves in my yard (glad THAT’S over!) I decided that we should do decimal remainders first, followed by decimal division. Once that has been mastered, THEN we will do problem solving. Hopefully though the Singapore Math books will arrive soon and then I will see where to jump in.

With that in mind, I told the students that as far as division is concerned, it is time to “grow up.” In other words, no more quotients with remainders unless told otherwise. From this point forward, if there is a remainder they will keep on solving it until they get to the hundredths place. For example, 10 ÷ 3 is 3.33333333 onward forever. With problems like that, I told them to stop at the hundredths place or simply the second number after the decimal. Instead of 3.3333333 they would just write 3.33 or 3.33‾.

I told them to not worry, just like with multiplication and long division, that I would keep doing this until they mastered it. That is how the rest of the math period went: I put examples on the Smart Board and solved them step-by-step. In retrospect, this lesson went VERY well! They got it and got it quickly! YES!!!!!

I have also created a narrated mini-lesson on division with a decimal quotient and is below if you wish to view it. I have also posted it on the Math Help page.

Today we did something a little different in literacy. While I did some reading aloud from By the Shores of Silver Lake, administered the spelling test, and gave out the new words, we also noted that today is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was a good time to review sequence and summarizing so I went to YouTube and showed two

JFK_DAY1_1stBulletin_940x470_hub.jpg

clips of the actual broadcast from CBS that day. It started off with a commercial (all in black and white) for a laundry additive followed by a very boring episode of As the World Turns. Most of them did not know what soap operas were so I went in to that and shared my memories of President Reagan being shot when I was in 5th grade.

I had to finally fast forward the clip to the first broadcast interruption of the breaking news of the day. They only saw a news bulletin graphic with Walter Cronkite’s voice since it took 20 minutes for the cameras to warm up and be ready.

The second clip was the news footage about the assassination as it was playing out with the climax of Walter Cronkite announcing President Kennedy’s death as official. It was interesting how the news was getting out before the official announcement and how they had to keep reiterating that it was not substantiated.

The student’s assignment was to write a summary of the events in sequential order.
We continued to do the warm up in the new format where each student has a printed copy. This makes it so much easier for solving the area problems.

In math, we continued with long division. Today was one last day of just arithmetic problems that involved just numbers. On Monday and Tuesday, I am planning on focusing on problem solving. Today’s activity was done independently and the students were able to self-check with the black light.

In science we remained in physical science with the focus on energy transfer and gravity. The first experiment was using the magnetic cannon accelerator, which is made up of steel ball bearings and powerful magnets. When the first ball bearing is introduced, the magnet pulls it hard into a collision, which forces the other ball bearings to move forward with the last one shooting out. Below is the video from Thinkgeek.com where I purchased it.

The next experiment was a demonstration of energy transfer to. I can’t remember what it is officially called. It is a stack of bouncy balls on a stick. When the whole thing is dropped, the energy from impacting the floor transfers through each ball and the one at the top shoots off into the air. They noted a connection between the height of the drop and the intensity of the ball flying.

I have found out that there will be no clubs at all next Tuesday due to Thanksgiving Break.
I will be updating this wiki page next week on both days though I am confident that they will be short.

Lastly, report cards were sent out with your child. Please sign the manila colored card and return it inside the envelope on Monday.

I am sorry that there was no entry yesterday nor an email like there normally is. But, my daughter was sick and I needed to stay home with her. Hopefully that will not be a too frequent occurrence since being out is disruptive to the students. I am sure that my substitute did a fine job but it just isn't the same.

Today, we went on the field trip to Rural Hill which is near (or in) Huntersville and just down the street from Hopewell High School. I thought it was pretty neat being exposed to 18th century life in rural Mecklenburg county. I am so glad that I have been reading the whole Little House series since my class was well prepared for this. Hey, it was educational for me too! I was chatting with our tour guide while the students were preoccupied with the cows (I have cows next to my house so I am desensi

sweetannie.jpg

tized to it). He showed me this annual, self-seeding plant called Sweet Annie which people used to rub on their skin as a natural deodorant. Cool! I found a source for the seeds to that is definitely being planted next to my neighbor's fence come spring.

It was cold but it was a lot of fun.

So, the field trip took the entire literacy and recess blocks of time. We returned to the school just in time for lunch.

After lunch, I read aloud from By the Shores of Silver Lake and gave them a division activity. Today they were allowed to work together but tomorrow they will be on their own.

Also, please remember that the math homework is due tomorrow and the spelling test will take place as well. As a reminder, I will be giving out the math homework and spelling words tomorrow, as usual, but they will be due on Friday, December 6th. Next week is only two school days and that is simply too short to be giving out spelling words.

I am hoping that the students will have mastered division enough so that I can move on to actual mathematics. The step-be-step algorithm involved with division is important to know in order to solve problems. That is arithmetic. Mathematics is taking the arithmetic knowledge and applying it towards problems, theoretical and real-life. That is what I really enjoy: creating challenging problems!

Lastly, we will not be switching classes next week since it only consists of Monday and Tuesday.

Today was a different day with the chorus performing. That cut math in half but we were still able to do some more long division, with and without remainders. I am starting to feel a lot better about my class since there are a LOT fewer problems with division. Now, it is mostly trivial mistakes. That is a good sign! Once we get that stuff out of the way, then I can have some fun designing multi-step problems that use more than one operation.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud By the Shores of Silver Lake and we did rotations. We also continued with main idea. Some of the students were struggling with the text that I used, which is a series of short paragraphs on a variety of topics.

However, I have to remind myself that this was meant for 6th graders but I still like to challenge them with more difficult and complex texts.

In math, as I mentioned earlier we reviewed division. Students were given twelve division problems to work out and then self-check in the back. The answer key was taped to the back wall under the black light and the answers were written in pink invisible ink. All they had to do was to turn on the black light for the answers to be revealed. I have to say that I was pleased with their progress!!!

In Science, I did an experiment on convection and heat transfer. I passed out a page from my new science notebook that I am going to publish once my real book is completed. I am attaching a copy of it if anyone wants to print it out in full. Each student was given a sheet of the experiment page and observed while I demonstrated energy transfer and heat transfer along with how atoms vibrate faster when energy (heat) is applied to it. Once the experiment/demonstration was completed, the sheet was filled out and turned in.

The demonstration called for the following:

Lab coat

Safety glasses

Hot pad

2 feet of galvanized steel fence post

1 sheet of steel mesh inserted a few inches into the fence post

Blow torch

Water

As I did last week, I had a student video my experiment but again it is too big to send. So, I am posting below the demonstration from Loose in the Lab, which is the company that I purchased everything from.

Once the safety/nerd gear was put on in all its geek glory, I held up the fence post, lit the blow torch and inserted the flame into the post at the end where the mesh is. I held the flame to it for about a minute and took out the blow torch, shutting it off. Then, after a few seconds the students noticed this humming noise emanating from the fence post (plus an obnoxious metallic smell). The objective then was to write down what they witnessed, and what they thought had happened. After a brief discussion, they would write down the results.

Basically, the flame from the blow torch heated up the mesh causing its atoms to vibrate at a much faster rate. Since it was trapped within the fence post, it had nowhere to go so the heat was trapped. The vibrations also traveled along the fence post which created a sound since it served as a medium.

Today I began with a warm up involving material other than area. I did focus more on division since that is what we are now doing in math. Though there are still a few students who are struggling with division, we are continuing on with it. I will also continue to review it as much as possible.

Once the warm up was reviewed, I began with the interactive read-aloud of By the Shores of Silver Lake in the Little House on the Prairie series. This is the fifth of the eight books in the series and is the furthest west that the family goes. They go into Dakota Territory following the railroads. I mentioned to the class that this is now the Wild West and this is a much rougher place.

In the notebook, I finally included actual photographs of the Ingalls family so the students have real faces with the characters. The one character that I did not post is Almanzo since he won't appear until the next book, The Long Winter.

We also continued with the skill of main idea and summary. We read a sample passage and had to determine what it was mostly about. I also did this with my guided reading groups.

In math, I went over a review of adding and subtracting decimals and finding the area of of irregular figures. Then, I returned their quiz from Friday and gave them the opportunity to correct anything wrong. We will go over the results tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we will also focus on division and continue with practicing it until we attain mastery. I did tell the class that this was it in terms of basic numeration. Once everything (adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, with/without decimals, etc) have been mastered, THEN we will use calculators. Until then, the calculators will remain off-limits. Even when they will be permitted, it will not be an everyday occurrence. This will be mostly be for multi-step problem solving and problems involving very large numbers.

Lastly, please let me know if there is a particular math skill that I can do a mini-lesson on and post it on the wiki page under Math Help. Really, it is no bother and it only takes me a few minutes to do. Please let me know.....

Today’s warm up activity had two parts rather than one this time. The first one was the typical area problem solving that involved multiple calculations of multiple connected figures.

The second one was a review of division from yesterday. Since there are still some students who are learning the method of long division, I went back and had them divide 160 by 7. In this case, there are 160 green heptagons (7-sided polygons) and the student had to divide them into seven equal groups. In this case, there are 22 groups of seven with six left over. So, 160 ÷ 7 = 22 r6.

In literacy, I continued to read On the Banks of Plum Creek and actually managed to finish the book. I then began reading By the Shores of Silver Lake. This book takes place a few years later. There is a new baby, Grace, and Mary is blind from meningitis (not scarlet fever as told in the book). The family had only made two poor wheat crops and now was in dire straits due to having to pay a doctor’s bill. A relative showed up and offered Pa a job in the Dakota Territory with the railroad for $50.00 a month and a chance for getting a claim. Ma didn’t want to move away from a settled place but agreed that this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Also Jack, the faithful old bulldog, passed away. This move would be the last move west for the Ingalls family.
We also did the spelling test and new words for next week were given out. I upped the number of spelling words to twenty and will keep it this way until around May. Once we enter that month, the whole focus will be on preparing for the tests on the week of the 19th.

We also had a main idea quiz for the students to practice their reading comprehension skills.
Math class was split up into four parts. The first part was to collect the homework and then post the answer key. Second, I administered a five question quiz on multi-step problem solving. I kept the number to five to be mindful of the time.

The third part was a review of long division and the process of how to do it. A few students requested that an alternative method of division be taught to them so I did some research and found that there is indeed a lattice division method too. That comprised the last part of the all-too-short math block. I will be posting some mini-lessons and guides on lattice division in order to assist students who need extra help on it. From this point, I will be doing both the traditional and the lattice methods interchangeably, and students will be free to use any method they feel comfortable with. As I had mentioned some time beforehand, I do not concern myself with how they solve math problems as long as they get solved. The “Two C’s” (correct and consistent) approach will always be acceptable to me since there are multiple ways to go about solving a problem. Who cares HOW as long as they get it right?

In science, the focus was on force and motion with gravity as the main concept. We continued watching the video from yesterday until the announcement that Student Ambassadors and others were called. That left me with five students so it pretty much stopped science instruction.

I tried to make today's warm up a little more challenging and I succeeded. Though most of the class eventually figured it out, it did require a lot of revisions to get the correct answer. Below is the warm up along with the solution. I did two things differently today. The first is that students were given a printed copy of the shape and the second is that calculators were permitted.

Thursday Warm Up.png

Thursday Warm Up Answer.png

In literacy, we did the usual activities and tomorrow is the spelling test as well as a main idea activity as an assignment.

In math, I decided that they were ready for long division. As with the multiplication before it, some students had already mastered it while others had never done it before. I did print out a template but I found, unfortunately, an error that rendered it ineffective for those who are learning so I switched to the old-fashioned approach with just the division bar. That is what we did in math. I went over it step-by-step-by-step as many times as I could. By the end of the class, most of the students were able to divide with or without help. We will continue to do this tomorrow after the multiplication quiz.

I did create a mini-lesson on division that is below. If there is no sound, try clicking on the link below it. I will be making more of them but this one is the first.

In science, we continued with physics. I demonstrated two of Newton's laws of motion. I rolled a ball across the floor and it kept on rolling until it was either stopped by one student or another. A body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force (inertia). I mentioned that in space, there is no friction so objects such as space probes continue to move unless something hit them. On Earth though, there are two forces that will eventually slow down and stop the ball: friction and gravity.

The next demonstration was to place the ball on the floor and then kick it. A body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

I then showed the video but we did not have enough time to see all of it. So, below is the video.....

Today's warm up activity wasn't nearly as daunting as yesterday's and a lot of students got it right very quickly. So, I must therefore really get to them tomorrow. We can't have things easy can we?

In literacy, we continued with the reading aloud of On the Banks of Plum Creek. After listening to the student responses to to the read aloud, I can tell that they have mastered the art of putting oneself within the perspective of the character. In this case, the Ingalls family has a beautiful wheat crop that is almost ready to be harvested. In that crop is the repayment of the lumber used to build their house and the future purchase of a buggy, a silk dress for Ma, and other wonderful things that the family has never had before. So confident was Pa that he gave his last three dollars to the church in order for them to buy a bell instead of a new pair of boots.

The oppressive heat is a small price to pay. Yet, a massive grasshopper invasion dashed their hopes. The whole countryside was eaten away of any foliage and Pa had to walk three hundred miles east to find work for the family to get by.

We also continued with the rotations and I have a new form for conferencing with students on what they have read.

In math, we continued with multi-step problem solving. The students finished the problems very quickly and wrecked my lesson plan so I believe that tomorrow they are now ready for division.

In science, Ms. Allen's class went over a repeat of yesterday's demonstration on heat transfer. This time, I had a student video it. The only problem is that the video file is too large to upload it to this wiki page. Below is the YouTube video from Loose in the Lab, the company that I purchased it from.

Afterwards, we did an experiment on potential and kinetic energy and kinetic energy transfer. I had a student stack six plastic drinking cups in a pyramid shape. I primed and loaded a cool toy called a magnetic accelerator cannon. It has a series of large ball bearings that are lined up. When another ball bearing is placed in the rear, a powerful magnet pulls it fast into a collision. This collision transfers energy to the other side which shoots another ball bearing in a chain reaction. The last bearing rolled across the floor to knock down the cups. The students wrote down approximate distance and elapsed time and speed (we tried but we had trouble using the radar gun).

There’s nothing like a three day weekend to refresh and relax us! I don’t know about you, but I think three day weekends ought to be the norm rather than the exception. Of course, knowing myself as well as I do, I can easily see myself saying that there is nothing like a FOUR day weekend to refresh and relax and that it ought to be the norm………..

The students returned to what I thought is a pretty challenging warm-up problem. The new math standards are pushing for more complex and multi-step problems in math rather than simple arithmetic and I am confident that today’s warm-up was both. The students had a nice tessellating pattern that reminds a lot of people of linoleum patterns on a kitchen floor. I didn’t have that in mind when I created it. I just started drawing and that is what I came up with. That, dear reader, is one of the secrets of how I do things in the classroom. A lot of things are spontaneous and I am as surprised as the next person as to how they come out.

Anyway, the problem was a pattern made up of regular octagons and squares. There were two larger models of each on the right side with the dimensions needed to calculate the area. Just solving the area for the octagon required three different multiplications and one instance of dividing for the triangle. Then, the students had to add up everything. Once THAT was completed, they had to multiply by the number of total octagons in the figure and then do the same for the number of squares.

Tuesday Math Warm Up.png

Below is the answer

Tuesday Math Warm Up Answer.png

Normally I prefer to attach the notebook file at the end but I thought that this was worth pointing out.

In literacy, we continued with On the Banks of Plum Creek. Once the interactive read-aloud was finished, we did the reader’s workshop with this week’s focus on the skill of determining main idea. So the students returned to their seats to write a reflection on what was read aloud: write the main idea (Laura and Mary went to Nellie’s party) and three details. As we learned before, the main idea is what the given text is mostly about. While the text can have a few or many supporting details, there is only one main idea and the key is to figure out that from mere details.
After that, we did our rotations on the Tuesday schedule since today is Tuesday. I figured that it would be more of a hassle than it’s worth to do Monday on a Tuesday, etc. After the rotations, students had more time to do independent reading and then we closed it out with more reading aloud from On the Banks of Plum Creek.

In math, we are still waiting for the Singapore Math workbooks so I am continuing with multiplication of whole numbers and decimals with an emphasis on multi-step problem solving. The problems that the students had to do on their own for independent practice required more than one step to solve and some of them contained extra, unnecessary information. This also was a good practice for the students.

Below is a downloadable copy of both the assignment and the answer key. The answer key shows the extraneous information crossed out.

Since last week was not conducive to switching, we again switched classes. My students went to Ms. Allen for social studies while her class came to me for science.

In science, I had Ms. Allen’s class come in. After quickly reviewing the content-specific terminology, we had no time to lose so we did some demonstrations/experiments. Today was about both heat and energy transfer along with kinetic and potential energy.

We started with a demonstration of how energy is transferred by locking and loading the Zyclone®. This is a perfect demonstration of potential and kinetic energy. When the Zyclone is pulled back, energy is stored making it potential energy. When it is released, that energy is in motion which is kinetic energy.

I then passed out a page from my new science notebook that I am going to publish once my real book is completed. I am attaching a copy of it if anyone wants to print it out in full. Each student was given a sheet of the experiment page and observed while I demonstrated energy transfer and heat transfer along with how atoms vibrate faster when energy (heat) is applied to it. Once the experiment/demonstration was completed, the sheet was filled out and turned in.

The demonstration called for the following:

Lab coat

Safety glasses

Hot pad

2 feet of galvanized steel fence post

1 sheet of steel mesh inserted a few inches into the fence post

Once the safety/nerd gear was put on in all its geek glory, I held up the fence post, lit the blow torch and inserted the flame into the post at the end where the mesh is. I held the flame to it for about a minute and took out the blow torch, shutting it off. Then, after a few seconds the students noticed this humming noise emanating from the fence post (plus an obnoxious metallic smell). The objective then was to write down what they witnessed, and what they thought had happened. After a brief discussion, they would write down the results.

Basically, the flame from the blow torch heated up the mesh causing its atoms to vibrate at a much faster rate. Since it was trapped within the fence post, it had nowhere to go so the heat was trapped. The vibrations also traveled along the fence post which created a sound since it served as a medium.

Today we did the spelling test and the new words were assigned. Instead of using up science words, I found a challenging list that is normally for seventh graders. It sure beats the easy stuff.

We also continued with the read-aloud of On the Banks of Plum Creek. What is interesting is that for a book that the class didn't want to have read aloud, they sure are into it. So, it looks like the series stays. As I mentioned before, I will read to the end of These Happy Golden Years where Laura and Almanzo get married. I didn't care much for The First Four Years since it is unfinished and downright depressing. I will encourage the students to read the other books affiliated with the characters but not written by Laura Ingalls Wilder herself (The Caroline years, the Rose years, etc.)

In math, half the class did the higher Singapore Math assessment and the others did some multiplication problem solving. I think they hit the wall with this one, which is fine since we need to get started as soon as possible.

We couldn't switch for science and social studies since the movie Akeela and the Bee. So, Ms. Allen and I will switch for science and social studies next week. One thing that was discussed during the daylong planning yesterday is to have science and social studies in the morning so there can be more time for math in the afternoon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

No update today since I was in all-day grade level planning.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Today our school held its in-class spellings bees. Since that is a part of language arts, I opted to do this during the literacy block. That was a good idea considering that my class has a lot of good spellers. It took a good hour, at least, to have a winner declared. In the years past when I held spelling bees in my class, students would drop like flies pretty quickly. However, this isn't one of those years. A lot of students stayed in for a long time until we finally arrived at our final four.

After a brief rest and water break, the final four took a while too but quickly dropped down to the final two. After that, Kayden was declared the winner. But, I wanted to get a runner-up so the final three spelled their hearts out until Rohan took second. Good job all around!!!

In math, we FINALLY finished up the Singapore Math assessment, had it self-checked, and then scored. We then did some story problems on the Smart Board.

Due to the spelling bee in Ms. Allen's class in progress, we did not switch. Tomorrow is all day planning for third grade so I am going to see if I can get an hour on Friday.

Picture Day is tomorrow and there is a way for you to fill out the field trip permission form without the paper. Just look below........

Dear Parents:

A class trip has been approved for Rural Hill Plantation on Thursday, November 21st. It's purpose is to learn about light and heat in the 18th century. We will be traveling by bus leaving the school around 9:30 and returning around 12:30. Since this is a required field trip there is no cost involved.

Child's Name:

Parent/Guardian Name:

Contact Number in Case of Emergency:

I have read the description and....I give permission for my child to goI do not give permission for my child to go

Submit

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Well, we finished Farmer Boy and now we returned to the Ingalls family with the book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. In this book, the setting is a few months after they had left Kansas in a hurry since they had heard that soldiers were going to force them to leave. They had traveled across Missouri, Iowa, and a good ways into Minnesota where they settled about three miles outside Walnut Grove.

This is a first for the family since the land the house that came on the land they had traded their horses for was a dugout. Today, all that remains of the dugout is an odd-shaped depression in the land along Plum Creek due to flooding back in the 1930's.

We also continued with our rotations on the modified schedule. So far it is working out. It went a lot smoother today. It might be a good idea to actually take a break between rotations and take the class to the restroom. I think that will be the plan tomorrow.

In math, we continued with the Singapore Math assessment. Though there are still a few students who have not finished, we will score it tomorrow. Those who did not finish can work on it tomorrow during morning work. Once that has been over and done with, we can work on problem solving.

We did cover it this morning. As you can see on the Smart Board notebook that one of the problems involved problem solving with multiplication. I did introduce the FOSP method and we used it to solve the morning work problem.

Today, our classes switched for science and social studies. In science, Ms. Allen's class came and we watched a video on energy and heat transfer. Since time is limited, today's focus was on the video and tomorrow there will be at least two demonstrations/experiments tomorrow. Below is the video if you wish to watch it.

Lastly, the field trip permission forms were sent home. This is a required field trip so there is no fee.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanks to all of the parents who came for the conferences. I know that I had mentioned this earlier but after Friday my thoughts were reinforced. I really enjoy conferences since it gives me a chance to meet with all of you and get to know both you and my students a little better. Thanks also to Ms. Bingu for the wonderful chana masala and roti. They were delicious and it saved me from having to go out and eat. I would also like to thank Ms. Sheladia for the wonderful pie!!! Also, thanks are in order (again but NEVER, never, ever are enough) for the parents who came to help out with the Halloween party, the clean up, the card, and the Amazon gift card.

In literacy, we continued with reading aloud Farmer Boy. We are getting to the end of the book and it is sad in a way. All of you serious readers know what I mean when finishing a loved piece of literature is like saying goodbye to someone special.

We also started working on drawing conclusions, which is related to inference so much that they might as well be synonyms. It is a higher level thinking skill where one "reads between the lines" and has to figure out what is being implied rather than what is said.

Well, once again your kids made it difficult. I went with my family to Concord Mills on Saturday and went into this education store. In it was a series of card packs devoted to particular reading comprehension skills. I picked out Drawing Conclusions since that is what we are covering today and I chose the highest reading level available (5-6). Of course, silly me, it wasn't high enough. So much for that brilliant idea! So, I am donating the cards to another teacher. It's a good thing that I have taught elementary before so I could pull out material that I have used in years past. It is Common Core enough to get by. Whew!

In literacy we also continued with the rotations but with a modification in terms of the names and rotation schedules. The groups are the same but some of the names have changed (reading group is now Book Club). Below is the revised rotation schedule.

Reading Rotations Revised.png

In math, we did the Singapore Math assessment again since we were given the wrong one. This one is better and more in depth. The students were told they were not allowed to stress over it since it didn't count. Of course, as focused as they were you would have thought that it was. We will go over it and come up with a percentage on it and then focus on multiplication problem solving with a simple strategy. Below is a sneak preview. I made it up so of course it is going to be odd but hey, that's me!

FOSP.png

It is pretty simple. The first part, F, is to find the numbers in a word problem. I mean, really - it isn't math if there aren't numbers, right? In order to do math you need to find at least two numbers to work with. They could be the easy, straightforward, in-your-face numbers that anyone can see or they could be in word form. They could even be more subtle.

The next part is operation. Easy enough: now that the numbers have been located, figure out what to do with them based on the text in the problem. There are only four basic operations: add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

The third step is to solve it. The numbers have been located, their operation(s) discerned, and now is the time to do some math!

The last step is to prove it by inverse operations. That is nothing more than a fancy term for doing the opposite operation. Did you add? Subtract. Did you divide? Multiply.

And that is that!

Tomorrow will also be social studies for my students and science for Ms. Allen's class since last week as a no-go due to all of the scheduling conflicts.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Today was interesting. There are a few days during the school year that teachers dread: Halloween, the day after Halloween, Valentine's Day, full moons, and the day before a major holiday. But, at least the day after Halloween is not a school day. Hooray!!!

Despite this being a minor, non-official holiday, work did get done. In math, we went over the Singapore Math quiz and the homework. Next week's homework was also assigned and passed out. I am, of course, putting a downloadable copy below as well.

One last note: there were papers that were distributed to the students to take home such as the picture order form, the "Buzz" newsletter, and others. A lot of the students left them here so I will be giving them out tomorrow during the conferences. See you then!!!!!

P.S. THANK YOU for the card, the flowers, and the gift card!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In literacy, we continued with the literature circles. I also continued reading aloud from Farmer Boy. The books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are pretty quick reads and we are already half-way through the book. I am still amused as to how the kids are into the book after whining about it being "boring." So, unless I am mistaken we will continue with the series until it ends with Laura and Almanzo getting married at the end of These Happy Golden Years. I don't care to read The First Four Years since it is incomplete and a real downer in terms of the overall tone of the story.

In math, the PTA gave me the initial assessment for the Singapore Math program and that is what they worked on. I had to reassure them that this is not for a grade. Some of them were worried when they saw division problems and didn't know how to do it. Well, of course they didn't know how to do division since we are still on multiplication. This is just an assessment to see what they know. This will also help in determining which Singapore Math book to start with.

The students were free to use any method (other than a calculator, of course) they liked to solve the problems since that is what math is about: solving problems and knowing that there are usually multiple ways to go about doing it.

For those of you who do not know what Singapore Math is, it is based on the math curriculum of that country. I remember it from my days in teaching in Union County where the AIG (Academically Intellectually Gifted - basically their version of Talent Development) teachers used it. It does focus on higher level thinking skills and problem solving (like me, yay!!!!) so I consider it to be another tool to use.

However, the homework for next week will still be created by me. I am still not certain if the books are consumable or not so I need to ask. I still plan on supplementing the program since no program, regardless of subject, will completely fit.

We could not switch for science and social studies again today due to Ms. Allen's class doing presentations on their project involving a scientist. However, she did give the class an assignment to do.

Tomorrow is the spelling test and the words for next week will increase to 15. Also, the math homework is due and the answer key will be posted online.

Today, Ms. Jones took over the literacy lesson and did a lesson on getting to know the character and empathizing with him/her.

In math, we continued the quiz from yesterday and then had to cut it short for an assembly.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Today we began the final week of the first quarter. This is a short week with Friday being a teacher workday meant for parent-teacher conferences. Again, I am thankful to all of you for being prompt in signing up for your child's conference. I am at 100%!!! Truly, I am looking forward for the opportunity to discuss how things are with your child.

In literacy, we began with Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A lot of the students were mumbling and moaning about how they thought it was going to be "boring", etc. Well, things started out pretty interesting with a throwdown in the schoolhouse involving five big teenagers who were trying to thrash the teacher, only to have the teacher fight back with a whip. Now, the students are starting to think that maybe this book is interesting after all. It really is one of my favorites in the series.

We also did the visual literacy and went over main idea a bit. Then, we went to our rotations for the Daily Five.

In math, I gave then a ten question quiz on decimals (add, subtract, and multiply) and area. I am going to check these tonight and give them a chance tomorrow to finish/fix the ones wrong. Below is a copy without the answer key along with today's notebook from the Smart Board.

Since today is a double specials (art and then music), they did not have social studies but that begins tomorrow.

Lastly, I want to let you know a few days in advance so you have notice about an idea of what I want to do on Thursday. Today, we had our monthly fire drill. Since it happened during specials, I went outside a few minutes early to avoid the noise. Since I had a few minutes, I took in my surroundings and noticed this nice outdoor classroom. I would like to do literacy class, at least the part for rotations, outdoors. The benches don't look too comfortable so I am asking each student to bring an old towel or sheet to sit on while outdoors. Of course, this does depend upon the weather but I think that it will be a nice change. So, please bring either an old towel or sheet on Thursday.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Today we did not do the rotations in literacy due to today’s schedule. We did the interactive read-aloud, the spelling test, the new spelling words, and a reading comprehension activity. Since our time for the book fair was from 11:00-11:20, it made the rotations impractical. However, the book fair is for a very good cause so I don’t mind the disruption at all. I have to say that I really am grateful to all of the parent volunteers who helped out!

Today we finished reading The Pool of Fire and thus ended the Tripods series of books. On Monday, we will resume with the Little House on the Prairie series with the third book written, Farmer Boy. I am happy that this book was well received by the class, who were very much into it and were emotionally involved with the story and its characters. I hope the same can be said about the Ingalls family too.

Next week’s spelling words have been given out and the test is going to be on Thursday (Happy Halloween!) since it is a short week.

In math, we did some more of multiplication of decimals and whole numbers. But, I wanted to do something different. As I mentioned yesterday, I took painter’s tape and created a series of lattices throughout the room. The students were divided into five different groups, each group assigned a particular lattice. Four were on the floor and one on the marker board. Each group was given a set of number cards to cut out and order from 0-9. Also, each group was given something to indicate decimals. When all was ready, I demonstrated how each number card was used instead of writing down the number. For example, if they were to multiply 52 and 17, they would put the card with the 5 in one spot, the 2 in another, and so on. The decimal indicators were used to show where the decimal place goes in the answer by sliding them to meet. The activity was well-received but I had to stop it prematurely since they were getting a bit rowdy and some were starting to argue. So, afterwards they did an independent activity on multiplying. Below are some pictures of the lattices and the correct responses.

Friday Lattice 1.JPG

Friday Lattice 2.JPG

Friday Lattice 3.JPG

Friday Lattice 4.JPG

Friday Lattice 5.JPG

The homework assignment has also been posted and it too is due on Thursday, October 31st.

Math Homework for the Week of October 28th to 31st.pdf

For the science fair, the bibliography and hypothesis are due on Thursday. I did send out a link that will make the bibliography so much easier: http://www.easybib.com

In science, we reviewed matter and energy. For my class, I am going to have them do some more of the science work during literacy since a lot of that incorporates reading skills.

Today was basically a continuation of everything. The read-aloud is coming to an end faster than anticipated so I can see beginning Farmer Boy next week.

We continued the rotations in literacy and while it is nice, the students are still trying to get used to it. There were some instances of goofing off and they were addressed.

In math, we continued with multiplying decimals and whole numbers. I spent today putting down painter's tape on the floor throughout the room in the shape of lattices. Their purpose will be fulfilled tomorrow. Let's just say that this will make multiplication a lot more interactive and its just the way a lot of us like it!

The first due date for the science fair project is tomorrow and it is stating the research question and purpose. I have sent out an email to each parent in both my class and in Ms. Allen's class with a link to a form to fill out. All your child needs to do is type in the question and write a very brief statement about its purpose. There is an option to attach a file if need be though it isn't required.

Lastly, I have compiled the comic adaptation for the books, The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire. The City of Gold and Lead can be found here or on The Tripods page in this wiki.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Finally! After a lot of trying the class did the Daily Five rotations. The class was split into four groups and was roughly based on their reading group - near enough! Each group is numbered one to four until they decide what their names are. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to devote some time for that one. Below is a copy of the rotation schedule along with a description of what each rotation is devoted to. I also have one on the Smart Board that has the names of each students to indicate which group they are a part of but I do not feel comfortable posting this on my wiki page.

Reading Rotations.png

I also have this on the Reading Rotation page too.

This actually worked out pretty well. There were some students who were not choosing to follow instructions but overall it wasn't bad.

We also did the visual literacy and continued the reading aloud of The Pool of Fire.

In math, we continued with the multiplication of decimals and whole numbers. Most of the students have grasped the understanding of moving the decimal point at the end but I still feel that they need another day of practice. I did a few examples on the Smart Board and then passed out an activity (not graded!) for them to work on either at their groups or individually. This time, I had the answer key taped to the back wall under the black light. The paper had the correct answers written in invisible ink and the students, when finished, would turn on the black light and compare/contrast their answers with that of the answer key.

I used the blue invisible ink which works but not as well as I prefer so I think I will stick with the pink colored invisible ink.

In science, I didn't get the opportunity to journal yesterday about how it went. Ms. Allen's class came and we did the experiment of combining water mixed with Borax and Elmer's Glue. When mixed together, the liquid of the glue became sort of a solid in the form of a Silly Putty-like material. It is very easy to make and the kids loved it! I told them that Silly Putty had its origins in 1943 when a chemist was trying to make a synthetic rubber. Instead, he made the first batch of Silly Putty and shelved it since it didn't have the properties that he was looking for. About ten years later, a salesman from that company handed out the putty to entertain some prospective clients. One of them had the idea of making a toy out of it and the rest is history.

Today though, I had them copy down the notes that will be on a test coming up next Friday. Below are the notes that they are responsible for:

Heat - the amount of energy transferred in matter

Temperature - the measure of heat energy in matter

Degree - the units of measurement for heat and temperature

Conduction - transfer of heat between substances that are in direct contact with each other

Convection - warmer areas of a liquid or gas rise to cooler areas in the liquid or gas

Radiation - energy in the form of waves, rays, or particles

Density - how much of something there is in matter

Today in literacy I continued reading aloud from the final book of the Tripod series, The Pool of Fire and in visual literacy I used the two Far Side comics that were not shown on Friday. I have also been showing them on a daily basis the Boys Life comic adaptation of the original Tripods trilogy. It was serialized with roughly one chapter each month from 1981 to 1986. It was this comic adaptation that got me hooked on this literature. It was also maddening because the comic was only one page and once it was read, I had to wait an entire month for the next one. Five years is a long time!

In literacy, the students also returned to their literature groups to read their chosen novel. Tomorrow we will be doing rotations so you will know more about what it is like in tomorrow's entry.

In math......let's just say a lot of my students could definitely not complain about not being challenged today. I introduced decimal multiplication. While a lot of students got it pretty quickly, others had some trouble with it - especially the part about moving the decimal point at the end. However, we will continue with it tomorrow and foresee ably the rest of the week. I won't move on to division until I am comfortable with the class having mastered all of this first.

After specials, the class didn't go to social studies with Ms. Allen but instead Ms. Allen and her class came to us.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sigh, once again I had to miss a Friday. Thanks to all of you who have sent kind emails! Alivia is doing much better and I am happy to say that the next time she is sick, it is my wife's turn to miss a day of work.

In literacy, we finally finished the read-aloud, The City of Gold and Lead and just began the final book in the the series, The Pool of Fire. Once this is finished, we will return to the Little House series by Laura Inglalls Wilder.

The class also got into their literacy groups and began reading their chosen novels written in their chosen genres. I will soon begin to meet with each group to debrief and have them explain to me what they are reading, a summary of what is being read, a brief oral sketch of the characters, the setting, etc.

The students also were given a nice block of time to read independently. We will also be working some more on main idea, supporting details, and character studies.

In math, we continued with a synthesis of both geometry and multiplication. While they are beginning to master two digit multiplication, I am still reviewing area and perimeter only at a more challenging level. I have to say that I am being challenged too since I am giving them more creative and challenging warm-ups associated with those skills.

After going over today's math warm-up, which I tested them by giving the class a THREE-digit by two digit problem, I knew right then and there that they are now ready to be on their own. So today, I didn't even bother reviewing anymore! I split them into groups, gave each group four of the ten-sided dice, and let them go. They already knew to use the dice to roll numbers to multiply and then work them out.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day in science. As I mentioned during my email before leaving on Friday, my class and Ms. Allen's will combine during science/social studies to do the activity that I was not able to do. Plus, I didn't get the chance to do this with my class either so this will be a great opportunity to take care of that issue. Plus, I want to be able to get them going on the science fair.

Science Fair: I sent out a copy with my class on the timeline and due dates. Please do not panic that the time line is off. I will be giving the class PLENTY of time to work on this if need be. Plus, I want to take some time tomorrow to get them thinking on what they would like to explore. I will also be sending home periodically (either email or paper - probably email to be less wasteful) a checklist of how your child is progressing on the project. It is due on January 14th and the actual science fair is the 15th of January. The parents get to visit on the 16th.

Lastly, I would like for your child to do a math research project that would be due on Tuesday, November 26th. My idea is to have all of the parents who are able to, to come in and check out the projects. I will have hot drinks and snacks available too. I didn't mention this yet because I wanted Ms. Range's approval, which I have received. So, more information on that will be given out soon. The project will be due on that Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break since I like to give my students a lot of time.

Today went pretty well I would say. In literacy for the visual part I stopped doing the Dr. Seuss from World War 2 since it required a lot of explanations for them to begin to grasp it so I instead put two of the Far Side comics in there. Starting on Monday, I will be doing some propaganda posters to see how they interpret them. I know it will require a mini-lesson on that since everything in the picture is deliberate and for a reason - everything means something.

I also had the class get into their reading groups and choose which book to read together. Horror and realistic fiction were the biggest groups, respectfully. I did allow the groups the option of splitting into smaller groups if they couldn't decide collectively upon one single book. That did happen with realistic fiction and it is kind of amusing how the group splintered along gender lines with the girls picking one book and the boys another.

We also continued with main idea with an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. The text itself was one paragraph and the work involved filling in a graphic organizer with the main idea at the top and three supporting details below it. I can't wait for tomorrow's activity - The Main Idea Massacre. I did it last year with my 4th graders at Olde Providence and they had a lot of fun (and learning!) doing it.

In math, we continued with multiplying two, two-digit numbers. I gave them an in-class activity that was not graded. Tomorrow's will be but I wanted them to do this on their own first without any sort of worries about it being for a grade. Each student was given a two-page sheet, front and back. Both pages had multiplication problems but they had a choice of doing it with the traditional algorithm (vertical) or the lattice. The cool part was when they were finished they went to the back of the room where the answer keys were taped to the wall with the answers written with invisible ink. The students turned on the black light and held up their work to compare it with the now-visible answers to self-check.

In social studies, I noticed that Ms. Allen was going over the different branches of our federal government and its system of checks and balances.

In science, I continued with matter and density. We did three experiments. The first one was to predict what would happen when a jar of water and oil were vigorously shaken. As I am typing this during my planning period (3:11 pm) the mixture is mostly separated but the oil is still somewhat cloudy.

The second experiment involved a redo of last week's failure: I does the amount of sugar mixed in water affect its density? The answer is yes. The other question is: what would happen if different mixtures of sugar water were placed in the same container? The answer is that they are SUPPOSED to separate. This time it somewhat worked.

I poured equal amounts of warm water into two different laboratory beakers. One received blue food coloring and the other green (oops - it was supposed to have been yellow). The blue beaker had a tablespoon of sugar mixed in and the green beaker got seven tablespoons of sugar (to empty the bag). I poured the green first into a third beaker and then oh-so-carefully introduced the blue sugar water via a syringe. The result was that it separated if you looked very closely but it is hard to tell from the picture.

The third involved density too. The two beakers were emptied and refilled. The first one was filled with cool water from the tap while the other one had an equal amount of boiling water poured in. I added three drops of blue food coloring and we observed which one mixed the fastest. The class predicted accurately that the hot water would mix faster since hot water is less dense due to the expansion of molecules caused by the addition of energy (heat).

Thanks to all of the parents who signed up for conferences on Friday, November 1. If you haven't done so yet, there are still plenty of time slots available. I will be sending out the email with the modified drop-down menu of the remaining time slots.

Today the class got to vote on books for their reading groups. They had a choice that included continuing to read The Egypt Game, horror, science fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. While I have compiled the different groups, class time will be devoted to putting them into groups and deciding upon which book to read. Parents, it may come down to you needing to purchase a copy for your child. If this is an issue, please let me know.

In the interactive read aloud, I continued with the third book of the Tripods series, The City of Gold and Lead. It is highly likely that this book will be finished and also as likely that the final book, The Pool of Fire, will be finished before Thanksgiving Break.

We also did visual literacy with one from the World War 2 era drawings of Dr. Seuss and one from The Far Side.

In math, we continued with multiplication of two, two-digit numbers using both methods from yesterday. The students overall did much better but I am still not totally ready for them to be on their own - yet. I think tomorrow they will be and when I am comfortable I will have them do it on their own. I believe I will do something a little different though. They will be given an independent assignment or activity but they will self-check. I will decide tomorrow how. It won't be something they have done before.

In social studies they returned to Ms. Allen's class and did whatever they did.

In science, I had Ms. Allen's students for a review on the energy notes and three demonstrations concerning density. The first one was something called a Density Tower. It consists of nine layers: honey, corn syrup, pure maple syrup, milk, dish soap, water, vegetable oil, rubbing alcohol, and lamp oil. The differing densities caused each layer to separate.

The second demonstration involved my "lava lamp." It has a layer of blue colored water and a much bigger layer of vegetable oil. The object is to drop an Alka Seltzer tablet. Due to the densities of the water and oil, the bubbles rose and then sunk back down.

The third demonstration involved making a prediction: I already had vegetable oil in a jar and some green colored water. What would happen if the water was quickly introduced to the oil rather than carefully, one layer at a time? After the predictions, I did it and the water and oil very quickly separated.

I didn't get the chance to have the kids vote on what novel unit to do so hopefully I will be able to tomorrow. We did focus on main idea with an in-class assignment. Since some of the students didn't do so well, I will have another one tomorrow.

In literacy, as I mentioned above, we focused on main idea which is what it (being the paragraph, page, whole text, whatever) is mostly about. I definitely feel that more mini-lessons are in order for this.

I also had the students work on writing poetry of any kind. I prefer right now to let them express themselves before doing more structured poems such as haiku and limericks.

In math, we began doing multiplication of two, two-digit numbers since the students seem to be pretty familiar with their times tables. I am still planning on reinforcing them but for the most part they have it down.

Traditional Multiplication Algorithm Template.png

In introducing multiplication, I went over two different ways of doing it. The first one is the traditional algorithm that just about all of us learned in school. I created a blank template and students wrote on sheet protectors using dry-erase markers. A downloadable copy is posted in the Math Helps section of this wiki.

Lattice Template.png

I also introduced a different method called the Lattice. In this approach, one still needs to know the times tables but the calculating is done diagonally rather than vertically. Some students mastered the traditional way while others got the lattice pretty well. The students now have a choice of which method they wish to use. This includes any other alternative method not covered by me but proven to work. As I mentioned before, I care not how the students arrive at their answers in math as long as their method follows the two "C's": Correct and Consistent. If it is right every time and it works, go for it! A copy of this template is also on the Math Helps page of the wiki.

Below is a graphic showing how to use the lattice though I am posting it on the Math Help page of this wiki.

How To Do the Lattice.png

Since this week is social studies, your children went to Ms. Allen's class and did whatever it was that they did. I had her class for science.

In science, Ms. Allen's class came to me for the first of four days. We are transitioning into energy but still need to finish up matter. So, the kids came in to see text on an odd background:

This is from a website (http://doodler3d.trevorboyle.com/) that allows you to draw in 3D. In order for this to be effective, I passed out to each student a pair of 3D glasses. These are the exact same kind that my class received. They need to bring them every day. The next screen had this background:

3D Virtual Reality Paper.jpg

This is taken from something called Virtual Reality Paper. It is truly an awesome product in which you can use any colored pencil or pen, marker, whatever and draw. When you put on a pair of 3D glasses, the images have the illusion of "floating" much better than the traditional red and cyan anaglyph that most people think of when they think of 3D.

The students took notes today on energy and ways that heat can travel. The text they copied from was in 3D. The purpose behind the 3D is simply to make it more interesting and fun.

The next thing that Ms. Allen's class received was this: each student received a Design-a-Mug to take home and keep. What they do with it is take it apart and write their notes on the blank side of one of the pieces of paper. When they get home, they can review their notes every time they have something to drink. The nice thing is that the paper is replaceable and I will give them new sheets every time we take notes.

Below is an example from one of my students who wrote the spelling words down:

Design A Mug.JPG

Lastly, today we began doing clubs. Let's just say that it is the first time so there are kinks to be worked out. My club involves creating the mobile app that I have available for downloading. When I can secure the computer lab, I will take the students to Sploder where they can design their own video games.

Today we continued with our normal schedule. I read aloud from The City of Gold and Lead once I went over the warm-up activities. I also did two visual literacy warm-up activities rather than just the one. The first was a Dr. Seuss comic illustrated during World War 2 urging people to purchase war bonds and the second one was from The Far Side. As always, a copy of the Smart Board notebook is .pdf format is attached at the end of today's entry.

Also in literacy the students continued reading from The Egypt Game. In truth, there doesn't seem to be a lot of enthusiasm for the book so I believe that I will get students to choose what they would like to read. The tentative plan is this: each student will get a slip of paper like a ballot in which they choose the following:

1) Continue reading The Egypt Game
2) Science Fiction
3) Fantasy
4) Historical Fiction
5) Realistic Fiction

Then, once the ballots have been turned in I will group the students accordingly and let each group decide for itself what book to read together. I will have to offer several choices, of course.

In math, we did more geometry and I think that this will be the last full day of it until later on in the year. I taught them area, perimeter, attributes of shapes, etc. beyond the average middle schooler so it is time to move on. There will be the common assessment on Friday but that ought to not take up too much time. I feel the time has come to jump into multiplication and division. While I will be reinforcing the times tables and going over what multiplication really is, I feel that it shouldn't take long and that they are ready to do at least two-digit by two-digit soon after that. I am planning on teaching them two methods. The first method is the traditional algorithm that all of us learned growing up. The second one is the lattice method. Your child will be given a graphic organizer within a sheet protector of both. Then, each student will be given a choice of which one to use.

3D Virtual Reality Paper.jpg

Also, I have been doing this in 3D and it really works!

Welcome back! It has been a very busy week in which a lot of time was spent doing DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills), a state-mandated assessment for grades up to third. Students first do an activity in which they have three minutes (and only three minutes!) to read a passage and determine which of the three word choices will best fit with each sentence. It basically measures vocabulary skills. The others involves reading aloud passages for one minute while the teacher notes errors (running records). The student then retells as much as possible in one minute too (oral fluency and comprehension). Once that is established, students will read a passage or series of passages to determine their true reading level.

However, it is all finished until December when we do the middle-of-year assessment. Please note that this will be done over the course of a few weeks and I will only do a couple of students each day during independent activities to minimize disruption. This week’s was rushed because it is a new version of the program involving iPads, training to use them, etc. There was a steep learning curve so we had a lot to overcome. The next time, I feel, will go much smoother.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud from The Tripod series of books. Yesterday, I had just enough time to begin reading the third book, The City of Gold and Lead. I am confident that the final book, The Pool of Fire, will be finished next month and I will then return to the Little House books.
We also started something new yesterday in the visual literacy segment of the literacy block.

Instead of doing funny comics, I am taking a break from that to do something more challenging. During World War 2 from 1941 to 1943 Dr. Seuss drew a series of cartoons to inspire people for the war effort. We will be looking at some of them to determine their meaning. I did have to explain about War Bonds, rationing, appeasement, etc. After that it will become even more challenging with the introduction of propaganda posters from both world wars – both sides, Soviet propaganda, and others. This will help with higher level thinking skills such as inference and drawing conclusions, author’s purpose, symbolism, and recognizing bias. In other words, it will be very helpful in developing critical thinking skills. Also, there are again two versions: 2D and 3D.
The students also took their spelling test. This one and next week’s will be based on the book they are reading in class called, The Egypt Game.

After the spelling test, they got together to read the book some more and fill out a reflection on a prediction of what they think will happen.

Design A Mug.JPG

After the spelling test I introduced next week’s words with a difference. Each student was given a Design-a-Mug. This is something where the students can write their spelling words down and use the mug to study their words. This is also useful in writing down any other information that needs to be studied including math and science. Next week, I will give them the template that they can use rather than using the inserts that came with the mug. They seemed to like it so I think that it will be a success. I am also doing this for Ms. Allen’s class.

In math, we continued with area and perimeter including irregular figures, triangles, and parallelograms. I decided not to do trapezoids since we are going to start phasing out of geometry soon.

In science, we continued with matter, states of matter, and the study of density. Yesterday, I attempted to create what is called a Density Tower and while it did work, in one section it was very difficult to tell where each substance was due to coloration. Plus, I did not have any milk so I tried again today.

Successful Density Tower.JPG

To make a density tower, I took a glass vase and divided it into ninths since nine different substances are introduced. First, honey is poured into the bottom ninth. Next, a layer of corn syrup is poured on the honey followed by pure maple syrup and milk. I used True Moo brand milk which is shelf-stable with a little bit of fat in it. I wanted to avoid skim milk due to it being almost watery in consistency. The key is to have differing densities.

Following the layer of milk, I squirted dish soap into a layer, colored water, and vegetable oil. The last two layers were rubbing alcohol and finally lamp oil. If done properly, all of the layers will be distinct due to the differences in density among each substance. The old saying is that oil and water don’t mix and this experiment proves it.

Density is basically how much "stuff" is smashed into a particular area... or a comparison between an object's mass and volume. Remember the all-important equation: Density = Mass divided by Volume. Based on this equation, if the weight (or mass) of something increases but the volume stays the same, the density has to go up. Likewise, if the mass decreases but the volume stays the same, the density has to go down. Lighter liquids (like water or rubbing alcohol) are less dense than heavy liquids (like honey or corn syrup) and so float on top of the more dense layers.

We did a second one along the same idea but with only three ingredients: water, sugar, and food coloring. The question is: does the amount of sugar in the water affect its density? The students then formulated a hypothesis.

Now, once there is a hypothesis it needs to be tested. I took four cups of equal amounts of water. I explained to the class that the amount of water needs to be equal in order for the experiment to be successful (independent variable). I put a drop of food coloring in each cup of water to have four different colors.

Now for the experiment: the first cup had 2 tablespoons of sugar. The second cup received 4, the third cup had six and the last cup got eight. Once the sugar was dissolved in each cup of water the moment of truth was at hand. Will they be separate and distinct colorful layers or would it all mix together into a dark mass?

Failed Density Experiment.JPG

Well……unfortunately, it turned into a dark emerald color. That was NOT what I had in mind. The colors were supposed to be separated but instead mixed together despite the differences in sugar content. So what went wrong? As careful as I was when I poured the water in, I suppose I poured it in too much too soon. The best way is by a squirt bottle, pipette, or syringe. I will try again the following week.

The following week will transition from matter to energy but there will be an experiment on changing matter from one state to another, not with adding or subtracting heat but with a chemical transformation. Let’s just say that I stocked up on Wet Ones® wipes for their hands

For Ms. Allen's class, each student will be receiving the Design-a-Mug and a pair of 3D glasses on Monday. Please be sure that your child keeps them secure and brings them to class each day. I like to do a lot in 3D since it makes things more interesting.

I told the class that tomorrow is going to be the last day we are doing base 3 problems for warm-ups in the morning since I would like to devote the space for other concepts that could be practiced.

In literacy, I began reading aloud the second book in the Tripods series. In actuality, it was the first book written and it is titled, The White Mountains. When the Tripods Came was more of a prequel to show readers how the Tripods conquered the Earth and enslaved humanity. The setting is back in southwest England about 100 years after the Tripods have conquered. People live the same way they did back in the 1800's before electricity. There is no technology, no new ideas, and no curiosity.

I also did a Tech Time Times Three theme today. I had the students read the fourth chapter of The Egypt Game. Instead of writing a reflection on paper, I had them log in to Socrative and type in their reflection. This isn't a graded activity. When asked if it was a test, I responded that it was a test to see how well this worked. It wasn't too bad but I did have a learning curve to overcome. I think I will continue to use it for student responses but not for assignments or tests. The big problem that I experienced was that image files would never load. That is something that I don't like so another alternative will be explored tomorrow.

You can check it out somewhat by going to www.m.socrative.com and typing in 514034 for the classroom number. However, it won't do anything unless the teacher activates it.

The students also had time to work on their fictional stories and do independent reading, which is very beneficial.

In math, I gave the class the option of answering the warm-up question online using Socrative. It had mixed success but it was successful enough to warrant further use in the future. I then had them do the next activity which was ten questions covering things like adding, decimals, money, geometry, and perimeter.

Again, this too was not for a grade since I was testing it to see how well it works. The one neat thing about Socrative is that it gives the teacher live updates in real time so I can see who has finished and who is still working. More so, I can see on one screen their status including how many questions were answered and how many were answered correctly in the form of a fraction. For example, Joe Smith is on question 7 and he has five of them correct, I would see 5/7 on the screen.

I then had them explore geometry on an interactive site. The only issue is that the interactive sites don't always work on tablets, and that student behavior can be challenging. I have had to deal with students being very rude and especially not following instructions. Tomorrow will see whether or not we can continue doing this. I will let you all know how it goes.

The classes also switched for science and social studies. My homeroom returned to Ms. Allen's class while her class came to me again for science.

In science, the students were given class time to finish up their assignment from yesterday which was to read pages F-11 to F-21 and answer the questions on page F-21. I then reviewed the five states of matter and how adding and subtracting energy will affect the state of matter. I did demonstrate with the inflated balloon again to show that air does have matter and that an inflated balloon is proof of it.

I then showed them how I did the needle-through-the-balloon trick. The key is to lubricate the needle and insert it into the bottom of the balloon and out the top near the knot. This is the only way it will work. The secret is that the bottom and top are the thickest parts. The sides are too thin due to stretching.

Next, I used fire again by lighting a blowtorch. I then placed a brass sphere into the flame while another rod had a brass hole about the same size as the sphere. The class did hypothesize that the sphere would expand due to the heat so I tried to insert it into the hole with no success.

Thursday Science Experiement 3.JPG

The next demonstration involved a beaker of boiling water on a laboratory hot plate. The heat from the plate added enough energy to the water to cause it to evaporate. I placed a plastic container high enough above the beaker to catch the steam and let it condense.

Tomorrow, we will do another demonstration and hopefully an experiment involving a change in the state of matter due to a chemical reaction rather than heat.

This is going to have to be a short one. The third grade had a half-day planning session devoted to literacy and planning out what mini-lessons to go over during this month. I am going to have to tweak it to meet the needs of the students but it shouldn't prove to be a problem.

This is a reminder to please allow your child to bring his/her tech device both tomorrow and Friday. We are going to try Socrative and I am also looking at another site too for Friday. I am still leaning towards Socrative due to its user-friendliness and simplicity. We shall certainly see.

I knew that by being out for only one single day, things would be messed up. It really hit home as I began to type this seeing that the last entry was last Thursday and now we are in the month of October. I have to say, October-December are my favorite months of the school year. It is now autumn, the leaves are turning and the temperatures are more favorable. There is so much to look forward to and of course, the holidays too. Well, I sort of like the holidays. I like the spirit of the holidays but being a parent.....well, you know what I mean.

I wasn't able to add an entry for yesterday but we were still engaged and busy. I am attaching yesterday's Smart Board notebook file and work for you to look at. One thing I need to change with the Smart Board presentation is to make duplicates of slides in which items are manipulated and moved around. I realized that all you see is the finished product and not the "before" part of it. Today, I made sure that was the case.

One thing before I go on with the description of today: Thursday and Friday are going to be tech days. The reason for the need to bring devices is that I want to try something new on Thursday and give an online geometry quiz on Friday.

One thing that I wish I had is a student response system where each student has an individual remote control device which allows them to enter their response to questions on a screen. It is kind of like Jeopardy on a grander scale but all responses are recorded. Well, I was searching for an alternative like I always do when faced with reality and came upon Socrative. It looks like the perfect thing. Instead of a student remote, which costs a lot, students can use computers, smart phones, and tablets. So, I want to experiment with it on Thursday to work out any difficulties and then do the quiz on Friday. Another nice feature is that no one needs a separate user name and password. They simply log into the site, type in a number to signify the teacher and activity, and go on from there.

Here is the link if you are interested in checking it out: www.socrative.com

In reading, I continued with the fast-paced book, When the Tripods Came. Things are getting worse and the students have been warned that things continue to get progressively worse until the end. I mentioned that whether or not the book has a positive or negative ending is up to each individual. They do know that the Tripods take over the Earth, that is a given since this book is a prequel to the trilogy that comes next.

The Trippy Show.jpg

A new show is on TV called the Trippy Show, and it makes fun of the Tripods as clumsy and foolish and get into all sorts of trouble. Yet, the tone changes from clumsy to heroic. The truth is, the Trippy Show superimposed subliminal messages that hypnotized some of its viewers into Tripod fanatics.

People start to behave strangely and act out violently towards those who don't like the Tripods nor the Trippy Show. People also began to leave home, workers quit showing up at their jobs, and things get chaotic.

The main character, Lawrence ("Laurie") woke up one morning to breaking news that a second wave of Tripods have landed throughout the Earth and are surrounded by its followers. The government could do nothing since to destroy the Tripods would put the people at serious risk.

However, once the Tripods began to move towards London, the Royal Air Force destroyed them in a desperate move. In fact, this action took place throughout the world. As distasteful as it was, it was deemed necessary.

Despite the Tripods being destroyed, people still disappeared, whole towns became under the control of the Trippies. More people were capped.

The story goes on....the family fled England to the small island called Guernsey which too was controlled by the capped. In a desperate move, the family booked a flight back to England, hijacked the plane, and forced it to land in Geneva, Switzerland which is the last apparent free country.

We also did a visual literacy activity and began a new novel unit on a book called, The Egypt Game. Students read the second chapter together with a partner and had to write a one paragraph summary of chapters 1 and 2. The purpose of the written assignments is to keep the students accountable and to make sure that they are reading.

In math, we continued our study of geometry and perimeter. Today's focus was a review of finding the perimeter of irregular figures with missing side measures. The big focus today was comparing and contrasting the attributes of triangles and quadrilaterals and classifying them (grouping) according to attributes in a triple Venn Diagram. I did this yesterday as a warm up but the class did not seem to understand it that much. So, to me that means a do-over in order to master it.

Students were given a triple Venn Diagram and shapes to cut out to classify them accordingly.

Also, one of my awesome and wonderful parents pointed out an error on the math homework so I will correct it and inform the class tomorrow so they can copy it down. It too will be posted here tomorrow.

Also, the class went to Ms. Allen for social studies. I am writing this during specials so I have yet to know how they liked it and what they did. All I know is that they were to bring their social studies books and little else to class. I am looking forward to hearing about it.

In science, I hosted Ms. Allen's class for the first lesson. Due to our schedule on Monday in which students have back-to-back specials, there is no way to have science and social studies on that day. So we are forced to have it Tuesday through Friday. While it is true that the last 30 minutes of the day are not yet devoted to clubs (in a few weeks time), that time is allocated for clubs so that is out.

I introduced matter and energy with Ms. Allen's class and went over the five states of matter. Of course, they were quite familiar with solids, liquids, gasses, and plasma (the most common state of energy in the universe due to it being what stars are made up of). The one last phase was one they had never heard of - Bose-Einstein. That isn't an issue because though Bose and Einstein theorized its existence back in the 1920's, it was only in 1995 that is was proven to be true.

Bose-Einstein is a state of matter that only is found in extreme cold, near absolute zero. It is sort of an atomic "blob."

I talked about matter and how it is comprised of atoms. I asked the class if air has matter or not. The class agreed that it did and I proved it by inflating a balloon. By the balloon's inflation, it proved that air has matter. I then stuck a long needle through one end and out the other without popping it and explained that all things are comprised of matter and to prove it further, I explained that the air inside the balloon was escaping out. The class will find out tomorrow how I did this trick.

We also went over the one thing whose amount will determine matter's state or phase: energy. Adding or subtracting energy, the atoms in matter will either speed up their movement or slow down (but not completely stop). I posed this question to the class: does ice have heat? After a show of hands to state yes or no, I informed them that there really is no such thing as cold as far as physics is concerned. There is only the degree of heat so yes, ice does have heat in it but less than gas.

So, while it is one thing to talk about science it is another thing to actually DO IT. I gave them a brief assignment to write in their science journals: brief synopsis of what they observed; what they think happened (hypothesis), and whether or not their hypothesis was correct after I explained what happened.

The first experiment involved me doing something that I strongly encourage people to not do. I put some corn starch in my mouth, lit a blow torch, and a flame erupted. It is very crucial that one does not inhale the corn starch as it can cause lung damage or even death. I exhale before doing it.

What happened was the corn starch, the solid, passed through the flame of the blow torch which increased its energy. The increase in energy caused it to change from solid to gas.

The next experiment was this: I put liquid dish soap in a bowl and filled it with water. I then inverted a cheap Dollar Store aerosol body spray into the bowl and pressed down. I used the cheaper one due to its higher alcohol content. The body spray created more bubbles. I wet my other hand completely, scooped up the bubbles, and lit them. A brief flame erupted. In essence, the liquid's energy increased to the point where it had changed to a gas. Below are videos from when I did it before but it is the same idea.

No, my hand didn't actually burn but I did put the fire out as quickly as I could due to being concerned about setting off the fire alarm. The key is to make sure the hand is WET so it cannot burn. It doesn't hurt at all but I do feel the heat. Of course, I never have had it burn long enough to really find out. I either put out the fire or it runs out of fuel.

Today we went on our first field trip to the Children's Theater to see the theatrical production of Tarzan. It was a great experience and the students really enjoyed it. It was especially amusing when Tarzan and Jane kissed at the end and to hear all of the "eews" and "yucks" was priceless.

We did have some delay in waiting for the second bus to arrive. Ours made a series of thumping noises and it was quickly determined to not have come from a student. A mechanic was dispatched and he checked it out and thought it was the airbag mechanism that was sort of activated by the kids getting on the bus. All I know is that it was quickly resolved. So, after a considerable wait we were off!

Since we had to leave a little after ten, I did a longer read aloud. The problem was, I forgot to bring my copy of Farmer Boy so I began reading the Tripods book. However, thanks to one of my chaperones for her awesome help, I was able to get a copy. So, the class voted on which book for me to read: continue When the Tripods Came or Farmer Boy. The results: When the Tripods Came by a margin of 14-6. So, after this book I will allow the class to vote again on continuing the series or return to Farmer Boy. We shall see.

When the Tripods Came.jpg

The premise behind the Tripods series is that aliens take over the Earth and control humanity by placing a web-like metal cap on the heads of those who turn 14. The cap serves as a mind control device that makes the wearer compliant and takes away curiosity. It also turns back the clock on human progress so people live like people back in the 1800's lived before electricity and machinery powered by anything other than human, animal, or water.

The author finally wrote a prequel back in 1988, which is the book that I am reading, to give the readers an idea of how the Earth was conquered despite our advanced military technology.

When we returned from the field trip we had lunch in the classroom, I continued to read aloud, and then they went to specials.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I brought up my inability to log in to Renaissance Place (STAR and AR) to Ms. Jones and she is going to have to reset my password. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I will be able to FINALLY get all of that taken care of. I tell you....sometimes getting the school year started is like trying to drive a six-cylinder car when only half of the spark plugs are firing.

When the students came in, there was another activity in which they needed to convert a decimal number to a ternary number. I am still planning on doing that tomorrow and Friday but will be phasing it out next week to touch on other concepts. There was also an irregular figure in which they had to calculate its perimeter but the measures of two sides were undefined. So, that required a second step before even adding up the sides. This is not easy for some but we will continue on it.

In literacy, we continued with context clues and the Little House on the Prairie read-aloud. In fact, today I finished the book. I read the part where the natives were having a jamboree and Pa finally made it home from Independence with a plow, seeds, calico for another dress for Ma, crackers and pickles (a real treat for them!), and a black hard rubber comb for each of the girls.

Pa was plowing when he was interrupted by a prairie fire. They managed to save the homestead by plowing a furrow around the house and barn as a fire break. It worked. Though some of the settlers suspected that the natives deliberately burned the prairie to drive out the settlers, Pa didn't think so. He told them that they had a habit of burning the prairie in the early spring to make travel easier. Pa was in fact, very happy about it since it made plowing the fields so much easier.

The book ended in a sad and abrupt fashion. Pa was out planting crops only to be informed that soldiers had been dispatched to drive the settlers out. Apparently, they had settled three miles into Indian territory and the tribes had filed a complaint in Washington. Pa decided right then and there that they were leaving in the morning rather than wait to be driven out. Though Pa was cheerful, one can tell that he was also dejected having spent an entire year getting the house and the barn built, the well dug and the fields plowed - all for nothing. Laura knew it was for real when he gave the cow and calf to Mr. Scott, put the bows back on the wagon, and attached the canvas cover.

Now, in real life the Ingalls family moved back to Wisconsin for a few years before heading west again. In the books they move to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

However, I will be reading the next book in the series, Farmer Boy, which is about Laura's husband Almanzo growing up on a farm in upstate New York. It is one of my favorite books! The storyline takes a break from the Ingalls family and has a boy as the main character.

We also did some more context clues work, had writing, and independent reading.

In math, we focused on perimeter of irregular figures with missing measurements. I did provide each student with some centimeter graph paper but I have attached the file if you are interested.

In science, we continued with heat, states of matter, and energy. I tried to do an experiment with this substance called rheoscopic fluid but it didn't work. So, I used the lava lamp to demonstrate how heat causes atoms to move faster and away from each other. This makes matter less dense which is why hotter things rise. The lava lamp demonstrates convection currents where the wax rises to the top where it is cool enough for it to become more dense and sink to the bottom.

I am still in the process of trying to get Star Reading scores and to set AR goals. Now, I can’t access the site. Sigh….rest assured that I have asked for help so I am still planning on sending the reports home in printed form on Friday along with the progress reports.

The class came in and had two warm-up problems that were challenging but doable; they just took a good bit of time. I was especially pleased overhearing students discussing it, trying various methods to solve it, sharing with me their own methods, and checking over their answers. Yes!!!!

Tuesday September 24 Warm Up.png

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In literacy, we continued with reading aloud Little House on the Prairie. It was the early spring and the weather was getting warmer. It was time for Pa to take his furs to Independence to get a plow and seeds for the homestead. While he was gone, the natives had a jamboree. Ma pulled the kids in the house, the dog, and locked the door. While this was going on, Pa had still not come home. A normal round trip takes four days and they were well into the fifth. Since there was no way of knowing what happened to Pa, they could only wait and hope for the best.

We had two visual literacy activities to interpret. The first one was a comic with a joke and the other was a picture from World War 1 of German soldiers in a trench holding up dead rats. Food was a problem and soldiers were often forced by sheer desperation to eat rats, since they were a nuisance anyway. The students had to infer why they would be forced to eat rats – yuck!

Tuesday September 24 Visual Literacy 1.png

Tuesday September 24 Visual Literacy 2.png

We also covered a new (or “newish”) reading skill called Context Clues. This is where one finds the meaning of a word, not by using the dictionary, but by seeing how it is used in the sentence and paragraph. Sometimes it is pretty straight forward and sometimes one has to put thought into it.
We then did a few examples on the Smart Board followed by a brief activity in which they had to read an excerpt from Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson and use context clues to figure out the meaning of some older words from the 1700’s and 1800’s along with British words.
Students then worked on their writing and had a chance to do some independent reading since they didn’t get as much time yesterday.

In math, we began with a review of converting a base10 number to base3. The other one involved two decimal addition problems and figuring out which sum had the greatest value and why (place value, of course!).

We then went over decimals and decimal place value and I included a brief segment on expanded form with decimals. Since we are transitioning into geometry but I still want to keep place value fresh, I am still reviewing the older stuff and expanding on it too. That is one thing I love about math: it is spiraling and everything builds upon simpler concepts.

After the class mastered that, or mostly did, we reviewed the different types of triangles (the four basic: scalene, isosceles, obtuse, right) and the quadrilaterals (and their properties): squares, rectangles, rhombuses, parallelograms, trapezoids. We will continue to review their properties including parallels and perpendiculars.

Lastly, we did a lesson on perimeter. The class knows now that perimeter is the sum of all sides (s1+s2….+sn). The lesson also included calculating the perimeter of a figure with an unknown side by using the known sides. To illustrate this and its value, I told the class a true story about my 7th grade math teacher.

This guy is/was (don’t know) a real character. He fought in the Vietnam War and was medically discharged due to a grenade exploding close enough to his head to cause full deafness in one ear and partial deafness in another. Since he couldn’t hear too well, he had this tendency to shout.
Philosophical digression: did you ever notice how often it happens where the people with the least ability to communicate with others end up teaching math??? Go figure!

Anyway, he was in the jungles of Vietnam fighting the Viet Kong and it evening was fast approaching. The officer in charge of his unit needed to establish a perimeter since the enemy liked to attack at night. He needed to know how large the rectangular perimeter was so that he could figure out how far to space his men around to guard the camp.

How does one calculate the perimeter? You measure with a tape measure. So, the first guy was ordered to find the perimeter. He crawled on his stomach across the first horizontal, crawled up the first vertical, and as he was crawling across the second parallel horizontal he was shot (don’t know his outcome).

The same thing happened to the second guy.

My future math teacher was smarter. He crawled along the first horizontal, measured, and then crawled up the vertical to measure. Once measured, he crawled back. Once he was in a safe spot, he added up the two sides and doubled the number to get the perimeter since it was a rectangle. Algebra saved his life.

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In science, we began the unit on matter and energy. We went over the five states of matter. A lot of people think that there are only three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. In actuality, there are five with the addition of plasma (electrically charged gas) and Bose-Einstein, which is a sort of blob that only occurs near absolute zero (» -450°). To think of the other two in a different term: plasma is the result of heat and Bose-Einstein is the result of almost no heat. While Bose-Einstein was theorized back in the 1920’s, it was only in 1995 that it was actually proven to exist. Plasma is actually the most abundant substance in the universe.

There is a song from a band called They Might Be Giants where they sing, “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas.” That is not true! The sun is made of plasma since the temperature is so high that the electrons from the gas are ripped from the atoms and their protons are almost fused together.

We also went over the fact that there isn’t cold, only heat and heat is the energy and speed in which the atoms in matter vibrate. Increase or decrease the energy amount and the state can change.

Then, I did the finale. I am sure that your kids have already have told you but I will describe it nonetheless. I did a scientific demonstration in which I converted a liquid to a gas by adding a high amount of energy.

DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME

I filled a bowl full of water and squirted liquid dish soap into the second bowl. The bowl of water is merely for wetting my hand – a CRUCIAL thing in this demonstration. I then put on my lab coat and safety glasses. The next step was to wet my left hand and with my right hand invert a can of aerosol body spray (the cheap dollar store kind due to the high alcohol content). I pressed down the inverted can of body spray and it created a mound of large bubbles. Scooping the bubbles in my left hand (the wet one), I lit the bubbles and they burned without actually burning my hand. The only casualty was a few hairs on my wrist.

So, I turned liquid into a gas due to adding a high amount of energy. The class then wrote a one paragraph summary of what happened using the terminology presented.

Also, I have a .pdf of the Smart Board presentation with all of the work if you are interested.

I am going to keep this one short due to the lack of time. But, I will be posting the Smart Board presentation online if you wish to download it.

In literacy, we continued with Little House on the Prairie. Christmas was over and now the dreary winter was long and monotonous. All of that changed when the family was awakened by a loud scream that sounded like a woman's. Immediately, they thought that Mr. and Mrs. Scott were in danger since that is where the sound came from. Pa immediately got up, got dressed, grabbed his lantern and gun, and headed off to investigate.

He was gone a long time when all of a sudden he was pounding on the door to be let in. It turns out that no woman was screaming but it was a panther instead. So, the girls could not leave the house until he had shot it. Fortunately, Pa had an encounter with a member of the local tribe who, through the use of sign language, indicated that he had shot the panther.

In math, we switched for one day. Ms. Allen did decimals and I did base 3 notation with her class. The only complaint I have is that it was too short. I hope to do it again but it won't be soon.

Friday! It is such a glorious day for us all but here, teachers are permitted to wear jeans (yay!) and t-shirts (as long as they are appropriate, of course – bigger yay!). Today also marks the day where I am wearing the last of my geek shirts until I manage to get a few more. I always enjoy the looks on people’s faces when they see it and I really enjoy having the kids trying to figure it out. My wife got it for me last year on my birthday from Thinkgeek.com. Below are two different versions of the same concept. Parents, see if you can discern the meaning.

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There was a nice challenging warm-up. Today we used a lot of slides on the Smart Board so it is far easier for me to just export it to pdf and post it for you to view if you wish.

I literacy we did a lot today. I continued with Little House on the Prairie in which Pa has gone on a four day journey to Independence, which is the nearest town and it is 40 miles one way. While gone, the family felt uneasy and the dog Jack was especially on edge. This was evident when Mr. Edwards came by around chore time to help out and was cornered on the top of the wood pile.
Pa did eventually return home and he was COLD. It rained on the way to Independence and on the way back they were traveling against this bitter cold wind. To make matters far worse, the wheels on the wagon would cake up with mud and make it impossible to move unless Pa got out and cleaned the mud out. After what seemed like just getting back on the wagon, he had to stop and do it all over again.

Plus, the natives were camping along the creek and Pa found out that he built his house right next to a trail that is used a lot. Oops! Where we ended was one of my favorite parts: Mr. Edwards was invited to spend Christmas with them but due to the heavy rain the creek was flooded and it was too dangerous to cross. The girls figured that there was no way that Santa could make it so they resigned themselves to a Christmas Day without gifts.

However, they were awakened by a shivering cold Mr. Edwards who took his clothes off to swim the creek. Not only that, but he said that he walked to Independence and back, met Santa, and agreed to deliver the girls’ Christmas presents.

What did they get for Christmas? They each received a shiny new tin cup so they didn’t have to share a cup to drink out of (yuck!); a peppermint candy stick, a heart-shaped cake, and a shiny new penny. I always get a laugh every time I read aloud this part due to the reaction of the students.

We also did visual literacy, the spelling test, and an in-class assignment. The in-class assignment was challenging for the class because it was five pages in length but it was an article about why we should adopt a base12 counting system rather than the base10 that we have now (dozenal vs. decimal).

After reading the article, they had to discern its main idea in one sentence, summarize in four or fewer sentences. Lastly, they had to choose whether or not they agreed with the article. Once they made their decision, they had to justify it by explaining why or why not and cite examples from the actual text. I bet few agreed. I did notice that citing textual examples is a weak area that needs to be addressed so I will have to model it to give the class an idea of what will be required of them in the years to come since this is a part of the Common Core: not only finding the correct answer but explaining why.

We also did the spelling test.

In math, we continued with base3 (ternary or tertiary) numbers. They are doing a great job with it and we are now transitioning to geometry. I gave them a brief overview of the different types of triangles and quadrilaterals along with Miller’s Geometric Double Standards (“All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares”, etc). After that, they used technology to access my wiki page (Launch) and go to this geometry site that was interactive. Once math was over, they were allowed to go to the science section. Nice!

Lastly, I am assigning next week’s homework today and it is due Friday. The task is a project in which they will create their own system of numeration. It can’t be base 2, 3, 10, or 16 (hexadecimal), 20 (Mayans did it first), or 60 (ancient Babylonians. It can be any other base system. They need to design their own symbols , names of the numbers, and come up with some problems and solutions. Be creative!

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once stated that everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux, to be paraphrased. The same holds with teaching. Things change and those who know me, know that this is especially true with me. To give you an idea of how my strange mind works, think of it in these terms: everything is until it is not; it is until it isn’t.

What does that mean in this context? It means that I make plans and I do my best to have them as well thought-out as possible. However, when I get a spontaneous idea then those well laid plans of mice and men are discarded. The mind of Mr. Miller is but a fickle beast.

What it means for your child is that Ms. Allen and I will be teaching each other’s math class on Monday. We were having a conversation this morning comparing where we are at in math and whether or not she covered base three numeration as taught in the M³ book. She didn’t as of yet and since I have been putting a lot of time and thought into this (ie. Teaching myself to think in a totally different way) I will do base three on Monday while Ms. Allen will be teaching your child something challenging too. When I find out what it is, I will definitely let you know. This will also give us an opportunity to begin getting to know the students. While we will be switching for science and social studies every other week, the switching of math (and possibly literacy) will be less often. But, I am excited by this since every teacher is different and has a different style so we feel that this will benefit the students to be exposed to this. It is also a good way to acclimate to the switching of classes when they are older.

The class began with a warm-up reviewing base three numbers and then a multi-step special problem. One student managed to solve the second one.

In literacy, I continued with Little House on the Prairie with the Pa getting hired by cowboys to help keep a herd of cattle out of the ravines in exchange for a slab of beef. After the second day, Pa did indeed come home with a slab of beef along with a surprise: a heifer and her calf. The heifer was too thin to sell once they reached Fort Dodge and they weren’t going to sell the calf either so the Ingalls family ended up with some cattle. The only problem is that the cow is not tamed so she had to be penned up in order to be milked.

Where we ended was that Ingalls family getting dreadfully sick. One minute they could be burning hot, the next minute freezing cold despite the late summer heat and even the fire in the fire place. Their bodies ached to the bone and they suffered delirium. The read-aloud ended with Laura having a stranger getting her to drink this bitter medicine. The people at the time didn’t know what it was and some attributed it to eating watermelons when in reality it was malaria caused by mosquito bites.

The class continued working on their mini project which is some sort of visual summary of Beauty and the Beast.

There was also an in-class assignment where they read a news article about British scientists theorizing that they discovered extra-terrestrial life high in our stratosphere that were brought here by meteors.

The task was to determine the main idea of the article and write a summary. The challenge, however, was that the summary was limited to four sentences maximum.

In math, we continued with base three numeration in terms of converting a base ten number (“normal”) number to base three. The students were each given a graphic organizer in a sheet protector to help them work out the problems. They also took a grade level place value quiz and then were able to work on their projects.

In social studies, we continued with communities.

Due to the time constraints today, I do not have graphics but I do have the presentation in pdf format if you wish to view it.

Last night’s Curriculum Night was a success. Thank you to all of the parents who came by. If you couldn’t make it due to whatever circumstances, I totally understand. I did post a pdf of last night’s presentation on the wiki page’s home page so you can view it if you wish.

The class began with a challenging warm-up that was similar to others in the sense that spatial awareness was needed for the problem solving. Plus, I have to admit that it is a lot of fun to create the graphics for this though I am limited to Power Point since my little laptop can’t handle the demands of Corel Draw. Oh well.

Wednesday September 18 1.png

Wednesday September 18 2.png

Wednesday September 18 3.png

Wednesday September 18 4.png

In literacy, I continued with reading aloud Little House on the Prairie. Pa returned home and the girls told him about the visit from the two natives. When Laura admitted that she considered letting the dog Jack loose despite being told not to, Pa was very stern. He made it clear that the last thing he wanted was trouble with the natives.

Afterwards, things seemed to start out boring in the next chapter with Pa digging a well. That was the final large-scale project that he wanted to complete before he made the 40 mile (one way) trip to Independence, which was the nearest town. After digging down as far as he could, he knew he needed help so he enlisted the assistance from a neighbor named Mr. Scott. Each day Pa insisted on sending a lit candle down the ever-deepening hole due to the prevalence of dangerous gasses. One morning, Scott assured Pa that everything was fine. Pa assumed that it was and Mr. Scott went down the hole to dig while Pa stayed above ground to empty buckets of dirt brought up. Soon, Pa yelled out that Mr. Scott passed out from breathing the noxious fumes. After rescuing him, Pa exploded a packet of gun powder which brought the bad gas up to the surface. That is definitely a lesson well-learned!

We also did a visual literacy activity:

Wednesday September 18 7.png

Then, we discussed main idea, supporting details (somewhat), sequence, summary, and how all of them are related.
Then I assigned the class another mini-project. They already ready Beauty and the Beast in their Imagine It books. Now, the task is to create a poster with a depiction or illustration of main point of the story without using text other than the title. The idea is for someone who is unfamiliar with the story to be able to get a good idea of what it is about (plot) without it being given away. In other words, spoiler-free is the way to be!

Afterwards, and no they didn’t finish this, we reviewed the writing process and had the students come up with their own fictional story. They could choose any sub genre of fiction, or even a combination as long as it was made up. Once they get started, I will be able to conference with the students. Also, I will be doing mini lessons on various aspects of the writer’s craft so their stories will be open to many revisions and editings.

Wednesday September 18 8.png

In math, I gave them another spatial problem solving activity. This one was tougher than the one this morning.

Wednesday September 18 9.png

Wednesday September 18 10.png

Wednesday September 18 11.png

Wednesday September 18 12.png

Since we are still on the topic of numeration, I took things deeper with the study of base three numeration or tertiary numeration. First, we reviewed base ten and what each place means. Since our system, the decimal system, is BASEd on ten, each place really means a power of ten. The ones place is 100 (anything to the zero power means one). The tens place is 101, the hundreds place is 102, the thousands is 103, and so on.

I also touched on square roots meaning that what is within the square root symbol (radical) means: “What number to the second power?” It is likely that square and cube roots may be covered later on in the year once I am confident that my students – all of them, have first mastered the third grade content and have managed to go deeper. I want to be sure that everything required has been covered and mastered before going this route.

So, base three…..with the decimal, or base ten system, the largest number that can go in a single place is 9. In other words, nine ones can go in the ones place. If one more one was added, there would then be one in the tens place (one ten) and then zero in the ones place.

With base three, two is the maximum number that can be in any place. One counts in base three this way: 1,2,10,11,12,.20,21 and so on. There can’t be a number 3 in base three. Look at it below:

Wednesday September 18 13.png

We only touched on base three today with the rudimentary aspects of it. However, the class seemed to understand it a lot faster than anticipated. So, after a few examples I had them continue working on their mini project.
I did add a base converter tool to my wiki page and app if anyone is interested in exploring this further.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Today's will be short due to preparing for tonight's Curriculum Night.

The day began with a challenging warm-up activity:

Tuesday September 17 warm up.png

In literacy, we continued with the reading of Little House on the Prairie. This part was devoted to Pa getting around to the incredibly hard work of cutting down trees, splitting them along the grain into boards, and making a roof. Then, he did the same with making a floor. They also finally got to meet some of the natives when two warriors came into the house. Ma made them cornbread and fed them and then they left. The big problem was that before leaving, he told the girls in no uncertain terms to NOT let the dog, Jack, loose. Laura was seriously considering it. Stay tuned.

We also did a visual literacy warm-up.

Tuesday September 17 visual literacy.png

Tuesday September 17 math warm up.png

In math, I gave them their first mini-project. Since we have been covering place value and numeration, I decided that it really served no purpose in doing more arranging numbers to get the largest possible value. So, their project involved them pretending that they were going to teach a student who could be from grades 3 to 9 how to arrange numbers and get maximum value. They have a wide variety of options (is there any other way?) to express themselves and to design the lesson. Some are doing comic strips. Some are doing poems, songs, raps, etc. One group is even doing a 3D model. Like all projects, I keep the rules to a bare minimum so I can kick back and watch the creativity roll in.

I also assigned the first weekly assignment. This was tough for me in terms of coming up with stuff that will be challenging. I hope I was successful. That is one thing about Talent Development: there is a much greater emphasis on problem solving and project-based learning. It's just the way I like it!

Lastly, there is going to be a change when it comes to science and social studies. After discussing it with Ms. Range, who gave her approval, Ms. Allen and I will be teaming up for this. Since science is my strength and social studies is hers, our students will be switching classes just like older kids in middle and high school.

I will be teaching science and she will be teaching social studies. Yet, the schedule will be the same in terms of students getting science one week and social studies the other. The only thing that really changes are the teachers. This will start the following week. Next week is my class' turn for science so we will do that. Next week, they will go to Ms. Allen for social studies while her class comes to me for science. The week after that, my class stays with me and Ms. Allen's stays with her. We will switch every other week. We feel that the students will benefit best when teachers' strengths are applied AND, it is one less subject to plan for.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Today was another one of those odd days where the schedule was not normal. It was also the second (and last!) days of MAP testing in the computer lab. Friday’s test assessed reading comprehension while today’s test focused on math and math reasoning. While it does get tedious with all of this testing, it is nice to have data so I have a better understanding of where they are at and where I can meet them. With that, I had to abbreviate each subject period in order to get them all in. The daily schedule is truly a zero-sum game. If I spend more time doing a, I must therefore have less time doing b; for there to be a “winner”, there must therefore be a “loser.” I am not a fan of that one so I wanted to make sure everything got covered today.

We began the day with just one logic problem solving activity since a lot of space is required to get all of the relevant information in one place. It isn’t “hard” as much as it requires reading carefully and using the process of elimination to solve it. All of the information needed is provided but one still has to think.

Monday September 16 Warm up.png

Monday September 16 Warm up answer.png

In literacy, we continued with Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin has been completed in the sense that they have solid walls. The roof is the canvas wagon cover tied down over the rafters. The “door” is a quilt over the doorway. That presents a real problem since wolf packs are around and one night they had the house surrounded. At least the horses had a barn to keep them safe. Today’s reading was about how Laura helped Pa make a real wooden door and have something solid to keep the wolves out rather than the illusion of safety. What makes it interesting is how it ties in the idea of prioritizing that I have been covering.

First, the cabin was built. Then, they built a barn. Next, the door was built. Now, once Pa helps Mr. Edwards get his cabin built, the project will be a fireplace with a chimney so Ma can cook indoors. Eventually, a well gets dug.

We also did a visual literacy activity which required a little more thinking than prior ones. Again, what I like about doing this is that is requires the students to use higher level thinking skills such as inference and drawing conclusions in order to understand the humor.

Monday September 16 visual literacy.png

Since the students enjoy it, I still give them the option of putting on their 3D glasses. Sometimes the image really seems to pop out, other times it doesn’t. It is one of those add-on features that I found with the Firefox browser.

We also introduced the next story in Imagine It, Beauty and the Beast and we continued with the Daily Five intro lessons.

Lastly, we went over the science test.

Monday September 16 science test review 1.png

Monday September 16 science test review 4.png

Since math was cut short due to MAP testing (at least it was math today), I focused again on logic, reasoning, critical thinking, and using them to solve problems. The students are given the choice of working together or separately; working them out mentally or using conceptual and/or concrete models. After a time limit, which can be flexible if a particular problem is more challenging than anticipated, we discuss our findings and how we arrived at them. The one thing I will be emphasizing over the course of the school year is that there is usually more than one way to solve a problem. Below are the problems with the solutions worked out.

Monday September 16 math 1.png

We then did some more problem solving that used Venn Diagrams and/or logic:

Monday September 16 math 2.png

Monday September 16 math 3.png

I am hoping that we can do the Bring Your Own Technology thing on Wednesday.

Curriculum Night is tomorrow night from 6:00-8:00. Ms. Allen and I will both be doing it together in my room. I hope to see you there.

Lastly, the final day for me to collect money for the field trip is this Thursday. I can only accept cash in the exact amount or a money order. If you are going to have any difficulties, please email me as soon as possible and I can work something out.

Friday, September 13 2013

Today was another day where the schedule was different. I had a full literacy block but math was shortened due to the MAP testing in reading. Students will take the math test on Monday.

Today was not a very good day in terms of behavior choices. The class as a whole was very talkative and did not do very well in following instructions. Hopefully Monday will be better.

Below is the warm-up as they came in with the answers below:

Friday Warm up 1.png

Friday Warm up 2.png

I began with two read-alouds rather than just one today. The first was the continuation of Little House on the Prairie. We began where the Ingalls family was introduced to Mr. Edwards, who helped Pa build up the walls of the cabin in just a single day as well as making the framing of the roof. The session ended where Mr. Edwards was singing on his way home and Pa was playing the fiddle.

The second book was called The Name Jar and it is about a Korean girl who just moved to our country and feels uncomfortable with her name due to students making fun of her.

We then did a brief mini lesson on Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast two and three different things. The activity involved students grouping up together and creating a double Venn Diagram to compare and contrast this story with Good-bye 382 Shin Dang Dong in their Imagine It book. The examples in the Venn Diagrams were of actual students but I blotted them out for this to maintain privacy.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014Today’s entry is going to be short. The warm-up again included a graphing exercise that required the construction of a bar graph this time. I don’t think one student was wrong on it. There was also a problem where they had to read two graduated cylinders with a liquid inside both and calculate the combined amount. I am happy that turned out well since I spent a good bit of time creating that clipart myself. I know that there is a ton of stuff on the internet but I really prefer to use my own.

I continued reading aloud the short story, The Legacy. As soon as I finish it I will read The Upstairs Room.

The students also had time to work on their choice menu items while I was doing DIBELS. I have so far covered about 1/3 of the class for the reading fluency portion of it and I expect that to be completed by the end of the week. Next week will focus on the reading part where they do a written response. As tedious as DIBELS can be, it is very useful.

In math, we continued with the reading of liquid capacity and I think that I will not be spending anymore class time with that! The class has mastered it totally! I then had them do another graph construction activity.

We also did science with plants.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014I see from the visit counter that the number has surpassed 1600 hits from this page alone. That is just 1601 (as I type this) since I got the gumption to insert the html widget since I was curious to see how often this site is visited. Can we hit 2,000 by the end of the year? That would be awesome!!!

Today we began something and ended something. DIBELS began with the first few students and we ended the read aloud book Test of the Twins. I did read aloud a short story later on called The Legacy which takes place about 25 years after the events of Test of the Twins. It is a story whose events serve as a prelude to Dragons of Summer Flame, which I will not be reading as I have mentioned before.

The warm-up had a tough one for a lot of the class. It involved using the distributive property to solve an equation and then figure out which pattern the answer would fit in. The answer was 26 but the problem was that none of the patterns actually started at 26. The only one that worked was the one where the pattern began with 78, which is 26 times 3.

Instead of the choice menu items today, I had them do the Interpretation of Data activity. Originally, the class was divided into five different groups but unfortunately, the noise level and the amount of off-task behavior was too much so it changed to individual work. They were to choose any character (other than Raistlin) from any of the read aloud books from this year. Tomorrow morning the work will go up on the bulletin board in the hallway.

In math, we focused on measurement: mass and of liquids in cylinders and reading the amounts. It isn’t as easy as it may seem since not all of the graduations are marked. Still, the class did a good job on it! Tomorrow will still have that in addition to going over data.

Monday, April 28, 2014I have found out that End-of-Grade testing will begin for us on Friday, May 23rd in reading. We will administer the math on Tuesday, May 27th. This is not a CMS nor is a school decision but instead a state directive. However, I am still confident in the students in my class and I don’t think taking it a few days earlier will make that much of a difference. If I learn of anything new, I will of course post it. The calendars on both the wiki and the mobile app have been changed to reflect it.Thanks to the parents who have responded to the tech survey. I received some great feedback and I appreciate the suggestions too! One concern was that this page is slow to load. That is understandable since there is a lot of stuff on it going back to the first day of school. I think an archive page would be better. I think it is a bit late in the year to do this but it is something that I will do next year.One of the things I am also looking at is going over to a different host for my web page. While I like Wikispaces, it is limiting. I am in search of something just as user friendly yet very customizable.Another change for next year: I am going to suck it up and spend the money to be an Apple developer. While it does cost something, if it will be convenient enough for more people to download my app and stay informed then it will be well worth it. Right now, anyone with an Apple device has to go to Appcatch.com and download it. While it is easy enough for me due to the virtue of doing it enough times, it isn’t always easy for others. Besides, if my app is listed on the App Store, it will make it so much easier for others with iPads/pods and iPhones to download. No changes are planned for Android devices since the Play Store has been successful. The only people who will still need to go to Appcatch are those with Blackberry and Windows devices unless I can get hosted there too.The warm-up involved the construction of a line graph and yet I still caught a few too many trying to make a bar graph. So, that will give me something to focus on this week along with getting some additional work in algebra and measurement. They should not be surprised to find something similar on tomorrow’s warm-up.For the read aloud, we are getting to the end of Test of the Twins. I am very confident that we will finish it by tomorrow so a stop-gap read-aloud will be determined this evening when I get home.For literacy, a new choice menu was given out. It no longer involves anything other than paper but still allows for creativity.We also began the DIBELS assessment. Tomorrow it will go full swing and I will do my best to balance getting it accomplished with not losing instructional time. My class has been pretty good about being self-directed so I am not worried.Tomorrow, the class will be divided into groups and doing an Interpretation of Data activity.Below is the choice menu:Test- create a test based on the storyProduct– design a detailed product (like a toy, for example) based on the storyGame– design any kind of game based on the story with detailed instructionsCharacter Study– create a bubble map of a chosen character and describe it as much as possibleData– create an Interpretation of Data activity based on a characterMath– design 3-5 story problems based on the story.I am looking forward to seeing yet again what kind of awesomeness is going to be produced by my class!In math, we did a review. Tomorrow we will focus more in-depth on algebra. Then we will cover graphing some more followed by measurement.Friday, April 25, 2014I have sent out next week’s homework assignment. There will be two more and then no more. I have also sent out a survey concerning my wiki and app. Thanks for the feedback!

Today’s warm-up was a nice review of what we can hopefully expect on the test.

In literacy, I decided to just do the DIBELS next week so we can start fresh.

I continued reading aloud Test of the Twins and we are making a lot of progress on the book. It is possible that we will be finished next week and then we move on.

In math, we used the tech devices to do the online quiz that is embedded in the wiki page (Launch Page).

We also had an EOG pep rally from 2:00 to 2:30. The Panthers’ Sir Purr was there and it was LOUD.

Afterwards, I did a different kind of activity for literacy. It is called an Interpretation of Data and it requires a lot of higher level thinking. I chose a character from our read-aloud series (Raistlin). The class came up with a description of him. Then, we took some descriptors and went backwards by figuring out the causes of it. Then, we took another step backwards to determine the causes of THAT. We also went ahead by predicting the outcomes. I love it!

Below is a screen capture of today's activity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014It is so nice to be back to normal! We have our computers back with Windows 7 installed and I have to say that it makes a great difference! Plus, my printer is now working again! I imagine that a lot of issues will be cleared up with the upgrade.

I have created a short survey for parents concerning technology. Please go to the link and take a few moments to fill it out. I really appreciate honest (and anonymous) feedback that is helpful.

http://mrmillersclass.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/Surveys

I will have a parent satisfaction survey that will go out in early June before the school year ends. It is going to be the same survey that I used last year at Olde Providence but I will tweak it a bit.

Now that I have a working printer again, I am able to print out the warm-up assignments again. Today’s warm-up had a pictograph construction problem, a compound problem (one story, two problems to solve), distributive property, and so on.

With the read-aloud, we are now on the final book of the Legends Trilogy, Test of the Twins. I imagine that it won’t be long until that is finished and then we do a few stop-gap books to finish up the year.

In literacy, we continued with the choice menu and this will be the end of it in its current form. Why? Oh, there is test prep and all of that fun stuff associated with it. So, while I will still have the choice menu, it will not involve constructing models and such.

Also, the final DIBELS window has opened and I have decided to wait until tomorrow for all of that to begin. We will start with the final DAZE assessment which is a timed activity in which students read a passage and at different parts of the passage, the reader has to choose the most appropriate word from three choices. For example, I went to the (restaurant, store, school) and ordered the vegetable platter with a tea to drink. The most appropriate answer would be restaurant since the rest of the text implies that food was ordered. Of course, that was a very simple example but you get the idea. The students are given a three minute time limit.

Monday is when I will do the rest. I am going to try to do a few students per day during literacy rather than have math disrupted trying to get it all in.

In math, we did more of a review of everything.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014Today the reading comprehension mock EOG test was administered. Also, the computers were off limits for most of the day. The reason for that is because today was the day that Barringer was scheduled to have all of its computers switched over from Windows XP to Windows 7. We finally received the all-clear to use our computers again just minutes before specials. So, tomorrow we will have the morning work again in the normal format.

Also, I have been working on next week's math homework. It too will be available online since that works out very well. If you are in need of a hard copy, please let me know by Friday so I can make arrangements. Besides, I still have three more questions to create before it goes live so there is time.

Speaking of Friday, I am planning on that day being a Tech Day so please allow your child to bring his/her device if you are so inclined. I will be sending out a reminder via Twitter, email, text message blast, and a message on the mobile app.

I am also going to be setting up a survey on Friday concerning my use of technology. Please take a few moments to fill it out and give feedback since I would like to continuously improve both the wiki and the app.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today there was no math warm-up due to the mock EOG test in math. The students did have the Junior Achievement post-test which just goes over stuff that they learned. Then I had them read quietly, sharpen their pencils, and use the restroom. This is important! It is crucial for students to at least try to go to the restroom in the morning before testing begins. To have to leave the room for a restroom break is only permitted for emergencies since it can be disruptive.

I also stressed the fact that it is very important to take one’s time and to pace one’s self. Those who finish early are not permitted to read nor draw.

There are a few differences though between this test and the real EOG next month.

1) No proctors are in the rooms

2) Everyone has the same test with the same questions in the same order

3) Everyone has the same test form

4) If we break for recess and lunch, we can resume it later on

Tomorrow will be the reading comprehension test.

After lunch, we did some literacy since the whole morning was spent on math. There was the time after lunch and the time after specials. This is definitely not the normal schedule and tomorrow will be the same way. Well, as I had mentioned before, March was the last “normal” month of the school year with April having spring break and May being the crunch time for test prep, Memorial Day, and the tests themselves.

Afterwards, the class went to the music room for a presentation on China instead of science lab. Tomorrow, as far as I know, they will have PE.

Monday, April 21, 2014Welcome back! For my first day back I was greeted with a nonworking printer. Isn’t it interesting how equipment that works just fine on a Friday will be messed up on Monday? I mean, what goes on during those times when I am not at school? Are there little gremlins that invade the system and wreak havoc in cyberspace?

This is the only gremlin I used to believe in but now I am not so sure…..

Xamount of hours sitting there in sheer boredom while the more conscientious peers are pacing themselves. Good times!Today’s warm-up was more on content and had fewer graphics than previous warm-up assignments. I am trying to review as much as possible in as wide a range as possible so space-taking graphics will have to make way for more content.

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins. After ten days between readings, I had to review what had happened up to where we left off but once I got started it didn’t take long at all for the class to remember.

In literacy, the focus is now more on reading comprehension though I didn’t want to do too much on the first day back from spring break.

After that, the students were able to continue with their own self-directed mini-projects from the choice menu.

In math, I covered measurement and data (measuring liquid volume and mass) by having the students determine which the most reasonable measurement for a given object is. For example, there is a continuum of weights: grams, ounces, kilograms, tons and they go from light to heavy. A student desk would be weighed in kilograms while a pad of paper would be weighed in grams or ounces. A car would be weighed in tons.

Lastly, with us now being in a test preparation mode I am no longer going to be doing spelling words for the rest of the year. We have one month left until the big tests and after that is about a week and a half of instructional days that remain. The time after testing is for make-up tests (those who are absent), field days, and other various activities that will be coming that I don’t know about as of yet.

The EOG tests will be Wednesday, May 28th and Thursday, May 29th. I am not sure which test will be administered on which day but as soon as I find anything out I will be sure to post it. What I do know is that both math tests (calculator and non-calculator) will be on the same day rather than split into two separate testing sessions. The reasoning for that the testing will occur right after Memorial Day weekend so having it on Tuesday right after a three day weekend will not be a good idea. Also, the 5th graders will be taking the science EOG. That is what I know and if/when I learn anymore I will be sure to pass along the information.Wednesday, April 08 and Thursday, April 09, 2014I was out Wednesday for dental work and yesterday was a required workshop for TD language arts.

Friday, April 11, 2014There is nothing like returning after being out for two days. There is definitely nothing like returning for the Friday before spring break. Yet, it is good to be back. Though the workshop got out about an hour and a half earlier than I would during a normal day of teaching, I prefer to be here.

I added a critical thinking question in the form of a logical fallacy (error in logic) for the warm-up. It is more for getting their thoughts and reasoning than anything else since math requires critical thinking. The fallacy in logic that I used is called Composition in which it is assumed that what is true for a part of something must therefore be true of the whole, which isn’t always the case. An example of it would be saying that the human body is made up of mostly water. Water is colorless. Therefore, the human body must be mostly colorless.

We also continued with the read aloud of War of the Twins.

Since today is Friday, we had specials (computer lab) from 10:10-10:55. However, computer lab had to be cut short to fit in one more Junior Achievement lesson on news and media. After specials we did not switch for science and social studies this time. I used this time to administer the spelling test and have them do some independent reading until recess and lunch.

After lunch we went straight to math since Hive Time was cancelled for today as well. Today being a Tech Time day I had the math test embedded within my wiki page (launch) just like the homework.

What I really like about using Google Forms for assignments is that I can view the responses as a spreadsheet. The key is to do it first and type in “Answer Key” where one enters a name and then fill in the correct responses. Why oh why did I not know about this sooner???

After that, we had the ICMM (I Can Manage Myself) dance or movie. When that was over, I had them straighten up the room that they are so good as messing up.

Have a happy, safe, and restful spring break! When we return the following Monday, it will be the month long countdown to the EOG’s. Math will be a mixture of review, going deeper, and learning anything that hasn’t been covered yet (which isn’t much).

Tuesday, April 08, 2014I decided to make today’s math warm-up activity based more on constructing graphs. There are five problems and two of them involve the construction of a bar graph and a pictograph. One of them requires averaging since it uses addition and division and the others are algebra-based (variable and distributive property).

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins and am beginning to contemplate the next series for reading aloud. Perhaps Narnia? There is plenty of time to think about it but I am sure that I won’t have that much time either with the year coming to a close.

Today’s literacy focus was more on reading comprehension since that is a necessity. Tomorrow will be the same way. I will not be here Thursday (nor Ms. Allen) due to a Talent Development day-long workshop. I do have an actual substitute lined up for Thursday.

At 11:00 we switched for science and social studies.

Since we are in the fourth and final quarter of the year the focus switches to the life sciences. We are doing ecosystems with an emphasis on plant life.

I showed the following video for science to introduce the students to some of the major ideas such as plant parts, plant reproduction, photosynthesis, adaptation, etc. Afterwards there was only enough time remaining for a brief review activity so I decided to create a short crossword puzzle. Tomorrow will be more in depth since today was more of an introduction.

In math, we continued with the distributive property. One way of expressing it in general is this:

a(b+c) = (ab)+(bc). Whenever a number or variable is next to parentheses it means to multiply. Whenever a number is next to a variable and/or two variables are next to each other (for example 2aandab) it also means to multiply.A more third grade example is: 2(4+5) = (2x4) + (2x5) = 8 + 10 = 18. OR 2(4+5) = 2(9) = 18. All this does is break multiplication down to show the relationships between the numbers. It is also useful in preparing for more advanced math in which one has to use the order of operations to solve more complex problems.

Reminder: Friday is a tech day so please have your child bring his/her device if this is possible.

Monday, April 07, 2014As we begin the countdown to spring break, I am still determined to keep up with the learning and engagement as much as possible. Today’s warm-up is no exception

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins and we are actually about halfway through the whole trilogy and ¾ of the way through the entire six book series.

We also continued working on the choice menu mini projects before devoting about 30 minutes to independent reading.

In math, I went over the distributive property since there will undoubtedly be some questions pertaining to that on the test at the end of next month. Whoa! It seems strange that I am typing the words “next month” in conjunction with The Test but that is definitely the case.

What we went over was taking an expression and using the distributive property to solve it.

For example: If I have 3 x (5 + 3) it results in (3x5) + (3x3) to equal 24. There really isn’t much to it but there very well could be problems such as “Which expression could be used to solve blah blah blah?”

Tomorrow and Wednesday will be more reading comprehension focused. Thursday will be less so and Friday will be reading comprehension on-line.

This is just a reminder to have your child bring his/her device (if allowed to do so) on Friday.

Friday, April 04, 2014Hopefully everyone has received and read the email that I had sent out yesterday with next week’s homework and spelling words. I wanted to use Google Forms and I really enjoyed using it. There is still a lot to learn with this (as with everything) so as I learn more it will be more versatile.

Today’s warm-up was a little shorter in length since the first problem dealt with liquid capacities in beakers. I used an example in the released test item document from the state. Both had to be read and then the numbers added up. Another one that took up a lot of space was also based on the released test items and involved the use of alternate methods of solving. I like those kind of problems!

I continued reading aloud War of the Twins until the class went to specials (computer lab). Since MAP testing is still in progress, Ms. McCoy came to my room to conduct class while I worked on the final touch-ups for today’s math activity.

After computer lab, I allowed them independent reading time until I took over and continued reading aloud. Then we went outside.

After lunch, Hive Time that normally was in place was cancelled for today. So, I allowed the class to work on their choice menu projects. Next week they will need to go home so you can be impressed by what your child has created. I know that I am! J

In math, we did the check book activity. This was the culmination of all of the work that was put into making the checkbooks. Students were given the assignment and two mock paychecks. The assignment gave them instructions on what bills to pay, to whom they were made out, how much, and what for.

When the paychecks were deposited, each check was written and the transaction was recorded in the register. Students had to make sure that their accounting was accurate. I am sending this home so you can see how well they did. Please keep the checkbooks at home until after spring break so they can be used for a future homework assignment.

Next week is the week before spring break so I am going to do my best to keep the class as busy and engaged as possible. Next Friday will be a tech day so please have your child bring his/her device.

Thursday, April 03, 2014I don’t know about you but this weather is impossible to complain about and that is just the way I like it! I don’t think we could have asked for anything better. With spring break only six instructional days away, I am finding that the students are more than ready and I imagine the teachers are too though I can only speak for myself when I say that I am more focused on the here and now.

I am continuing to use the morning work for a threefold purpose. One, it is used to keep skills fresh. Two, it is something for the students to do that is engaging and worthwhile. Three, new things can be taught in an easy fashion so it makes my math time more efficient.

The new thing the students were exposed to today is the symbol ∴, which means “therefore.”

I am using it now in the morning work for explanations, especially in algebra, to save space and also to expose them to more mathematical and logical symbols for later. As an example, I can write the equation: 3 +

s= 17. The students know that the English translation is, “Three plus and unknown number, represented ass, is equal to 17.” Three plus what is equal to 17? The students also know to use inverse operations (opposite) to solve it. 17-3 =14, 3 + 14=17, therefores=14. Or, they will write it as, “17-3 =14, 3 + 14=17, ∴s=14.”We continued with the read aloud for Time of the Twins and finished the book. So, we began reading War of the Twins.

I also gave them more time today to do independent reading. With the tests coming up, students will need to build reading stamina for hours of testing. Plus, TD students benefit from more independent reading.

In math, I went over the basics of check writing and how to use the register. Instead of having them use their checkbooks that they made (that is for tomorrow) I passed out sample checks for them to write. I did the same with the check register. Tomorrow’s activity in math will be solely devoted to check writing, bill paying, paychecks, etc. Each student will get two mock paychecks and a series of bills that have to be paid. Checks will need to be written properly and each transaction recorded in the check register.

Below is a sample check written to a fictitious company:

Lastly, next week’s homework assignment has been posted with a big difference. It is embedded in my wiki page (homework)and students do it online. There is also the option of doing it using the mobile app. If you need a printed copy, please let me know as soon as possible. This is my first attempt using Google Forms which is a part of Google Drive that CMS is transitioning towards. I have to say that I like it!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014I wanted to take a break from the check books and get back to a more regular schedule today since MAP testing is over for us. As I had mentioned before, my class was using the iPads as a pilot to see how well students did with testing on tablets vs. the computer lab. Monday’s session went fairly smoothly but yesterday’s had a lot of issues. The reality is that testing is moving in this direction so it gives us a good idea of what issues can be anticipated.

One issue is that when students are testing in both the computer lab as well as using the iPads, it tends to slow down the internet connection speed. That is going to have to be resolved. Another issue is that some of the iPads simply were not connecting to the wifi network while others were not responding to students’ commands such as “Next” to give an example. This will be interesting in the next several years as we transition towards online testing.

However, this year’s test will be the paper and pencil, multiple choice that students have used for years. The only difference is that the tests are more aligned to the Common Core standards. Tried and true testing strategies are still valid only now I am trying to prepare my students for reasonableness of answer choices, best answer choices out of what is given instead of simply the correct answer, etc. Of course, there will still be questions where the student will bubble in the only correct answer too.

And yet, I do want to reiterate that I don’t focus solely on testing though it will become more urgent the closer we get. I still want my focus to be on teaching and extending what has been taught.

Today’s warm-up was like the other two this week in the sense that I took released test questions and altered them a bit.

We also continued with reading aloud Time of the Twins which is book four of the Dragon Lance series.

In literacy, students resumed working on independent activities after we did a reading practice activity.

In math, we took a break from the checking activities and I spend today reviewing adding fractions with unlike denominators and then went over multiplying fractions.

Tomorrow I will go over how to do checks and how to fill out/reconcile the checkbook register. Friday will be the big activity with the checkbooks.

My plan for next week is to go over the distributive property in multiplication. After spring break, I would like to go over measurement and then review/extend for the next month. If any skills need to be reviewed I can do that with the warm-up and then do more review after checking the warm-up.

Once we are finished with the tests (week of Memorial Day) there isn’t much time left but I want to spend the instructional days (minus Field Day and other year-end activities) preparing for 4th grade.

The first order of business in preparing for 4th grade is making sure that all of the third grade content has been mastered. The last thing I want to hear from the 4th grade team is how my students are deficient somewhere. Once that has been satisfied, I will do 4th grade material.

Science is moving now towards biology and ecosystems.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014When I turned on my Smart Board this morning I noticed a blue tint to everything and unfortunately that isn’t an April Fool joke. Speaking of April Fool, Thinkgeek.com has some hilarious products to celebrate today. I thought the Rosetta Stone software to learn Klingon was cool but this one is my favorite:http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/1ba3/?pfm=af14_homepage_Featured_1_1ba3

I didn’t read as much from Time of the Twins this morning since I had to do MAP testing in math early on. Today was day 2 of using the iPads and there were a lot of issues that I would sooner not want to think about. Fortunately, that is all for the MAP testing but DIBELS: the Final Round is coming up. As soon as that window opens, I will be doing only a few students each day to spread it out.

In math, we continued working on the checkbooks and tomorrow they will be finished. I put on an initial layer of rubber cement to keep them together but another layer will be needed. Tomorrow we will be doing an activity on checking but I do not want them to use their checks until Friday where they will going all out. They will be given two paychecks from a fictitious employer and a list of bills (and whom they are made out to). The assignment will be to “pay” the bills, record them in their checkbook registers, and then make sure that they have enough for other expenses. The list will by no means be exhaustive in terms of monthly expenses. It will be a list of bills paid by check.

I know that this seems a bit old fashioned but it is still a good skill to learn and it does incorporate a lot of math in it.

Monday, March 31, 2014This marks the last (hopefully) make-up day from earlier when we had those snow days. Today is also the last day of March which is usually the seemingly longest month of the year. Today also marks the last day of the final “normal” month of this school year. April will have spring break and May will be a whirlwind of test prep (sorry!), Memorial Day, one last day of test preparations, and then testing. The rest of the time will be devoted to make-up testing, retesting those who didn’t pass the first round, and all of the other end-of-the-year activities.

Depending on how well my students will have done on the tests, I plan on extending curriculum and preparing for 4th grade TD class. Please be assured that I will not spend the school days post-EOG on watching movies and other time-wasting nonsense. With the exception of the last two days of school, we are still in learning mode to the end albeit on a more relaxed pace.

Of course, this is only the beginning of the 4th quarter and we have nine more school days until spring break so there is a lot of instruction left before I even can begin to think about summer! Back to reality……

Today’s warm-up was based more on released test items from the state but I changed them around to make them a little more challenging for some.

Today was devoted to two things: MAP testing in reading and the checkbook activity. I am one of the teachers who is doing the MAP tests using the iPads rather than the computer lab. The reasoning behind this is twofold. First, with one class in the computer lab another class can be taking the same tests on the iPads thus getting it completed quicker. Secondly, testing is moving in the direction of tablets and/or laptops so this helps students prepare for it.

I suppose there is a third purpose and that is for those of us who are doing the iPads to work out any problems that may arise with the tablets.

I read aloud more from Time of the Twins.

Today we also began our unit in math on finance. This will be a unit in the sense that the theme in math will be more finance-based and on using more “real world” skills but I will still be covering other content too. So, some days the students will use their checks and some days they won’t.

What we did today was actually create their checkbooks. I made up a fictional bank called The Bank of Plum Creek, which is a literary reference/joke from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Get it? Ha ha ha

The students received their handouts and I showed them step-by-step on cutting them out, and the order in which everything was placed. This was also a good practice in following instructions and listening since I no one was going to get a replacement set if they were not listening. Each student received 13 printed sheets plus construction paper to make their checkbook cover so simply giving students another set was out of the question if they messed up.

There was a lot of cutting, stapling, and pasting but the end result was a realistic-looking checkbook complete with a register. My reasoning behind this is that in order to prepare students for real world situations, it is best to be as real as possible. Besides, my class loves to make things so that too helped.

Later on, I did a mini-lesson on how to write checks and use the register. We did not get to writing checks today since I wanted to get them ready. Tomorrow we will be doing an activity that involves check writing, bill paying, and reconciling the check register. This will be done with calculators to speed up computation.

Below is a rough copy of the handouts. While I did create a back side of the checks with a section for endorsement, I am still working on sizing and alignment so that when it prints, it will print true. This is more of a prototype since I am still working on it.

The math homework is in the Singapore Math book:

3B: pages 78-82

4A: pages 88-92

Friday, March 28, 2014Today I did manage to bring my flash drives so things are more or less normal. Of course, today was 3rd grade’s full day planning so normality sort of went out of the window. Ms. White covered my class and I did leave her a set of detailed instructions and schedule.

Thus being stated, this entry is going to be short since I was not here for most of the day. I am leaving planning at 3:00 to host Science Olympiad students while everyone else goes to clubs.

The morning work is posted below.

I am not doing spelling words next week and the homework will be assigned on Monday.

Thursday, March 27th 2014Good news! I left my flash drives at home and now I had to spend the morning doing everything from scratch. Yippee!!! However, it was a good chance to use Google Drive since that is what CMS is wanting everyone to switch to. It does make sense. Even an older version of a commercial office software suite costs something while this costs nothing.

The only hiccup that I have encountered is that copying and pasting is an issue. I created the warm-up but when I copied it to the document, the formatting was way off. So, I have a lot to learn. A foreseeable problem is that everything is cloud-based so if the internet is down, so is everything else. I suppose there is one other very minor issue and that is the typical font I use for this blog (Century Gothic) is not available. Oh well. Why do I use Century Gothic and not Times New Roman or Arial? I read somewhere a few years back that using Century Gothic takes less ink so toner/ink cartridges will last longer.

Lesson to learn: have a back-up plan.

One difference that I have noticed is that Docs gives me the option of embedding html code into my wiki page.

The warm-up this morning, as I had mentioned above is in a different format. Instead of having two columns there is only one. I am still learning Google Docs so the kids will have to bear with me. There are no graphics on today’s warm-up for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want to take the time figuring it out and fighting with it and; 2) None of the problems required graphics.

Here is the link for the warm-up: Click Here

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Time of the Twins and then gave the students time to work on their choice menu projects (without the choice menu). At 10:15 Ms. Halso came in for the second day of Junior Achievement.

In science, we continued with data and graphing. Today’s add-on assignment was to take the existing chart with the planetary data and choose one measurable data point (size, distance from the sun, mean temperature, etc.). They were to then create a bar graph to picture the data for each of the eight planets.

In math, we continued with adding fractions with unlike denominators. I will do some subtraction but nothing that amounts to regrouping. If I had a horrific time trying to teach reasonably bright 5th graders that concept, I don’t even want to think about tackling it with my 3rd graders until testing is over with. I still have a lot of reviewing to do and I want to cover units of measurement with capacities.

I can’t say enough about how successful yesterday’s Data Quest went in addition to the prior ones. All of us really enjoyed doing it and the students were engaged, on-task, and focused.

Think of this: your child was sent out with a small group to a location elsewhere on school grounds to do an independent problem solving activity with little or no assistance. They went out, did what they had to do, and then returned.

One group went to Ms. Jones’ office to measure the inside perimeter to calculate the area and then determine if the area was sufficient. But, there were problems that had to be overcome and Ms. Jones told me that she was impressed with how they reasoned (ok, argued) with each other about the proper course of action.

I am planning on doing more of this but I want to have something different. Either I will come up with something or I will have groups of students design something similar to what we have done as long as it is both different and do-able. I don’t want it to be too difficult for the average group.

After specials, my class went to Ms. Allen’s room for the remainder of the day (3:25-4:00) while I held Science Olympiad in my room.

Reminders:

1) Tomorrow the math homework is due

2) The spelling test is tomorrow and the students will be getting new words tomorrow

3) I will be in all day planning with the rest of the third grade tomorrow and Ms. White will be in her subbing for me. She will administer the spelling test and run the class. I will be checking in throughout the day but I doubt that she will be in any need of assistance. The class will have their assignments and will be busy. I will be leaving planning early (at 3:00) to do science Olympiad.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014Maybe by this time next week nature will have gotten the hint that this is supposed to be spring time and that winter is passé. We can only hope!

Today’s warm-up activity had five problems but the first one took up the entire left half of the page. It had a chart comparing three individuals and then a blank Venn Diagram below that needed to be filled in. The next two involved fractions both adding and finding a location on a number line. The last one was algebra in nature.

We also continued with Time of the Twins for the read aloud portion of our time.

In literacy, the students worked on their choice menu options until 11:00 which is when we switched for science and social studies.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class was given time to continue working on their quadruple Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast their four chosen planets. For the second half of the class, I went over pictographs and how they are useful to represent data. I surveyed the class for their favorite planets and showed how to create a pictograph to reflect the data. Below is a combination of two screens. The top shows the tally marks to indicate favorite color and the bottom shows the data interpreted as a pictograph with a yellow star to indicate one vote.

I had mentioned yesterday that we were setting aside fractions for today to do something different. Today’s focus in math was on hands-on data gathering and then using the data to determine area, perimeter, and/or volume depending upon the assignment. Students then had to evaluate whether or not their data meets the criteria established in their assignments.

Today the students in the class took on the roles of imaginary counter-espionage operatives against “the enemy.” There are six different scenarios but four were chosen for practicality.

The class was randomly split into four different groups and each group was given their scenario. Then, they were given the necessary tools (rulers, meter sticks, meter wheels, etc) and sent out on their missions. Once they had their measurements (data), they were to return to the classroom to complete their work and debrief. Below is a .pdf file with the different scenarios.

I also showed one group how to use my digital tape measure which uses a laser to point and sound waves to calculate distance in either metric or standard units of measurement. It has been used by construction workers and surveyors for years.

Tomorrow we will resume with fractions. All-in-all, this was a very successful lesson/activity and I definitely need to do more of them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014Thanks to the parents who came to last night’s first annual Math Madness. I had quite a turnout too! I did have some third graders coming to my room but I had a lot more second and even first graders trying their hand at operations and algebra. A lot of them enjoyed self-checking with the black light too. This gives me a good idea of what I can expect next year and if the kids who showed up are any indication, I am going to be challenged myself in keeping THEM challenged! Good! I look forward to it.

For some odd reason I have rekindled my interest in retro video games. Do you remember Space Invaders and other games on the Atari system back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s? Despite their being primitive in comparison with games now available, they are still highly enjoyable to kids so the final question in today’s warm-up was a tribute to the old games…….may they never go away. I also have a page on my wiki (games) that has old games such as Joust, Frogger, Tron (the light cycles game), Galaga, etc.

We continued reading aloud Time of the Twins. The story does start out slower than it did with the first trilogy but it will get more interesting.

The students also had more time to work on their choice menu activities too.

At 11:00 my class went to Ms. Allen’s for social studies to do whatever it is that they do. Meanwhile, Ms. Allen’s class came to me for science and this is what we did:

This week’s focus is going to remain with astronomy but the emphasis will shift more towards integrating math, which is a fundamental part of science. Today’s focus was on analyzing data with comparing and contrasting in a visual sense.

We reviewed Venn Diagrams by choosing three students in the class at random. We filled in the Venn Diagram accordingly. Now for the challenge: I introduced the class to a QUADRUPLE Venn Diagram. This is more complicated since there are four data sets that are to be compared and contrasted. I showed them a sample and we did a brief activity so I can model for them what is to be expected for the independent work.

Basically, a quadruple Venn Diagram is made up of four ellipses instead of four circles but the idea is the same. Below is an example of the one we filled out using four randomly chosen students in the class. Their names have been covered up for privacy.

The activity: each student was given a copy of a solar system fact sheet and a blank quadruple Venn Diagram. They had to choose any four of the eight planets in our solar system (sorry Pluto!) and fill in the diagram looking at what they had in common and what made them different.

Below is a copy of the activity for your viewing.

In math, we continued with adding fractions with unlike denominators. I am still debating within myself as to whether or not to cover subtracting fractions that involve regrouping. I do want to continue to challenge my students but this is not covered until at least 5th grade (or middle school). We still need to cover capacity and some more measurement so we will see. I did cover multiplying fractions since it does tie in with reviewing the multiplication facts. However, I did more than simply go over the algorithm: multiply the numerators, multiply the denominators, reduce. I explained WHY multiplication of fractions has its use.

For example, take ½ x ¼ . Yes, the product is 1/8 but what does it mean? It is basically asking, “What is ½ of ¼ ?” Suppose there was a nice chocolate bar and I took ¾ of it. What you have left is ¼ of it. Now, suppose you have to share that piece with another person: how much of the original chocolate bar do you actually end up eating? You are getting ½ of that ¼ so you eat 1/8 of it.

Tomorrow’s math promises something different. I have found that sending out students on assignments outside of the room has been very successful. Tomorrow will involve another quest but not with Venn Diagrams. All I will say about it is that it has a spy theme. More tomorrow…….

In closing, I have uploaded today's Smart Board Notebook file in .pdf format if you wish to see what we did today.

Monday, March 24, 2014Another cold Monday greeted us on a late March “spring” morning. The students came in groggy and reminded me of the many zombie movies that have been created over the years, only the movie zombies were more lively. That’s ok, I feel the same way despite copious amounts of coffee.

The warm-up activity had one problem in which they needed to add two fractions with unlike denominators but it was a more simple form of addition. Others involved adding, multiplying, decimals, etc. There are six problems but I covered a lot of review material.

We continued reading aloud the beginning chapters of the second trilogy (Legends) with Time of the Twins. This book takes place about 2 years after the War of the Lance has ended. Though the free people of the world of Krynn were almost engulfed by the evil dragon armies, two years of peace has brought complacency. Sadly, the alliances against the evil are fraying and it seems that people haven’t learned. Others are even starting to say that the war wasn’t so bad after all. Another threat to the world is developing that will make them think twice.

In literacy, I put up a new choice menu and one of the choices was to finish last week’s project. I am not doing anymore 3D constructions for a while since I need to both rebuild materials as well as find room for everything.

In math, today was the day where students went on their Data Quest. They went to an assigned room where they divided the students into four groups and surveyed them. When they returned, the data was compiled into a quadruple Venn Diagram to compare and contrast, show similarities and differences between the four different data sets.

They again used the Quadruple Venn Diagram template.

To make things more interesting, Dr. Romanoff (my professor this semester) came today to observe. She was VERY impressed with the class!

This evening is Math Madness from 5:30 to 7:00.pm. I am doing Operations and Algebra with problem solving strategies.

Lastly, I wanted to give you a heads-up that Friday is our third grade full day planning. Ms. White will be covering for me and will be the one who administers the spelling test. I will have the Smart Board notebook file loaded and set up so that it is navigable for anyone.

Friday, March 21, 2014We had some great news to begin the end of the week. During the announcements, Ms. Williams let us know that my class was one of the winners of the collegiate door decoration contest! Great job!!!

Today’s warm-up had one error on it (missing a number) so it didn’t count. However, by the time this is posted and you are reading this, it will have been corrected and the proper version is available for downloading.

We finished Dragons of Spring Dawning and the class voted to continue with the Legends trilogy. So I started reading the prologue to Time of the Twins. Of course, if the majority of the class does not like this book I can always stop and do something else.

Today was supposed to be computer lab but it is in use for MAP testing (the last one!) and Ms. McCoy isn’t here today. So, my class was split up four ways and dispersed among art, music, the gym, and the media center. Perhaps we will finish it today. I would love to!

In literacy, we continued to work on the choice menu projects for a while before settling down to independent reading. I will have a different choice menu up on Monday and one of the options is to finish what they are currently working on. Then, I won’t have them do dioramas or mobiles anymore for a while since I need to build up supplies and find space for displaying their work. I do have the math projects up on the walls.

In math, we did adding fractions with unlike denominators. This isn’t as easy as adding with the same denominator since they have to use least common multiple to find the common denominator and then add.

The new math assignment has been emailed out and I printed a few hard copies if anyone needs them. It has nine problems and most of them require multiple steps though at least one is pretty simple. The last one requires the construction of a graph.

Lastly, Monday night is the math night and Ms. Artis and I will be there doing activities.

Thursday, March 20, 2014Happy first day of the spring equinox! Today we should have roughly equal amount of light and darkness and now we can look forward to longer days until the summer solstice of maximum sunlight. Yay!!!

The warm-up (appropriately named for such a beautiful day!) involved algebra, graph construction, and problem solving.

We are getting towards the end of Dragons of Spring Dawning but it is unlikely that we will be finishing the book tomorrow. I imagine that we will come pretty close though. I see us finishing on Monday unless we get extra time tomorrow which I don’t foresee happening.

In literacy, we finished up decorating the door and continued with the choice menu and then with independent reading.

Math was a change in plans. The class did very well with the algebra part so I decided to go back to fractions. I decided to start with adding fractions with like denominators. Well, tomorrow we will have to do fractions with UNLIKE denominators since they blew through all of the work in record time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014Another rainy morning but truly I can’t complain since droughts are over-rated. I just hope we get enough rain when it is needed the most: the summer!

Today’s warm-up had no graphics and a lot of text but in reality the solutions were simple once the students eliminated the extra information. Two of the problems required a simple calculation while the first one was different in the sense that the student had to solve it and then predict the most likely outcome. Another one required the construction of a pictograph to represent data. The students enjoy doing that since I encourage them to be creative. Instead of the usual “X” I ask them to create whatever symbol they like as long as it is consistent and it is accurate. Think “Miller’s Two C’s of Math”: Correct and Consistent.

In literacy, we are getting towards the conclusion of Dragons of Spring Dawning. I did bring in the Legends trilogy to gauge interest so we shall see.

The students also continued with their usual literacy activities for a shorter time since we needed to decorate our door for March Madness. Each class had to choose a college or university and decorate the outside part of the door. My class chose UNC out of three choices: UNCC, UNC, and Iowa. I decided to choose three to make it easier and less time consuming vs. having the students come up with a whole range of choices and then having the winning vote be by a small margin. While this is a neat initiative, I really don’t want to spend too much class time on this but they are excited about it for sure.

Also, I forgot to mention that I remodeled the area in the back next to the black light where electronics are recharged. I bought two charging stations at Target where two devices (or more) can rest while the cords are better managed. There is even a drawer underneath to store cords and other essentials. This has made a difference because before it was a jumbled mess of cords and wires twisted around. Plus, it frees up the tablet stands for other devices. If I can get to Target before they are all gone I will be sure to get at least one more.

In math, we continued with the quadruple Venn Diagrams to make sure everyone got them finished. I also paired up each student to design a survey (10-15 questions) for a class of students and then compile the data into a quadruple Venn Diagram of their own. I am thinking that it will most likely be Friday that they will be sent forth once more to their various places throughout the building on another data quest.

Lastly, I showed them another model of a quadruple Venn Diagram that I created.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014Another rainy and cold day awaited us but at least it wasn’t a disrupted day! It was also a very enjoyable day since the students (again) got to stay inside for recess due to the cold and wetness. From this point onward, please have your child bring his/her tech to school (unless they are forbidden to for whatever reason) on rainy days.

Today’s warm up activity had a review of area and finding the fraction based on its location on a number line. I highly doubt any student got them wrong but it never hurts to keep reviewing. I also had a complex problem that required using the order of operations but no one seemed to struggle with that one either. That is good since I only went over it yesterday. Not bad at all…..

I also continued reading aloud Dragons of Spring Dawning and we are getting into the second half of the book. I still can’t believe how quickly we are going through the story!

In literacy we continued with the projects and now I have a request. If any parent can donate tape (masking, blue painter’s, duct tape, etc), colored paper, and markers it would be greatly appreciated since my supplies are getting low. However, that really is a small price to pay when I see what your children are creating.

In math we had a great lesson!!! Today’s activity was called Data Quest and the class was divided into four groups of students. Each group was assigned a teacher to visit and gather information from her on a questionnaire. Once all of the information was compiled, the class compared and contrasted the data looking for similarities and differences using a quadruple Venn Diagram. Yes, you read that correctly. Below is an example of a quadruple Venn Diagram that I created.

Below is a screen capture from the Smart Board showing the compiled data that the students used to create their Venn Diagrams.

In science we did another activity to show how the distance from the sun affects its influence and the time for its energy to reach places in space. I had someone with a stopwatch and another student who recorded the data. I designated one place for each planet in the solar system and I rolled a ball. I was the sun and the ball represented the sun’s energy. I rolled the ball to each “planet” while the time was recorded. Once that was done, students created a graph to reflect the data.

Monday, March 17, 2014Happy rainy, cold Saint Patrick’s Day! This was a perfect day to stay inside and hopefully the weather report of a possible episode of freezing rain will not come to pass. The last thing we need is yet another disruption due to the weather! Let’s hope that tomorrow will be a normal day.

This morning’s warm-up had five questions and again I tried to incorporate a variety of skills to be utilized.

I continued reading aloud Dragons of Spring Dawning and we are now 1/3 of the way through the book.

In literacy, we did the reading comprehension practice that consisted of a passage and five questions. Before doing the practice, we went over some good test-taking strategies that they are encouraged to use:

- Read the questions first

- Read all of the text carefully and thoroughly

- Read each question

- Underline/circle/mark important details in the text

- Use the process of elimination

- Reference the text (go back and re-read)

- Eliminate unnecessary information

- Pace yourself – don’t go too fast or too slow

- Review your answers

After reviewing the answers, they continued working on their choice menu projects until it was time to read independently.

Since it was too wet outside, we stayed indoors for recess, which suited the class just fine.

In math, I turned the focus to algebra and went over the Order of Operations used to solve equations that have more than one operation in it. I introduced the time-test acronym PEMDAS for the order, moving left to right:

Parentheses– solve what is in the parentheses firstExponent– (not likely to be used yet)MultiplicationDivisionAdditionSubtractionHere is an example: (11-8) x 3 + 7 + 27 – 3

The first thing is to do what is in the parentheses, so subtract 8 from 11 to get 3.

3 x 3 + 7+27 – 3

The second step is to multiply: 3 x 3 = 9

9 + 7 + 27 – 3

Then add: 9 + 7 = 16

16 + 27 – 3

Add again:

16 + 27 = 43

Subtract: 43 - 3 =

40I gave them examples on the Smart Board and each student solved it for themselves on their own marker boards, holding them up for immediate feedback. Afterwards, they did an in-class activity and self-checked under the black light.

When math was finished we had double specials since this is Monday (Art and Music). When we returned, I had them straighten up the classroom before packing up, stacking their chairs, and gathering on the carpet for more Dragons of Spring Dawning.

Friday, March 14, 2014I am out today due to having both a dental and then a medical appointment. I am posting the warm-up for you to review and the homework assignment.

Homework:

Singapore Math 3B: pages 72-77Singapore Math 4A: pages 79-85Thursday, March 13, 2014Today’s morning work continued in our week-long proud tradition of taking up a lot of space for only a few problems. But, as we did before, the smaller number of problems required some multiple calculations. The class seems to have done quite well in understanding this without me having to go over it. Good! The only hiccup is that some of my students constructed a bar graph for the last problem instead of the line graph which is appropriate for data over time.

We continued reading aloud Dragons of Spring Dawning and gauging from the casual discussions and from questions from the students, there appears to be enough interest in the Legends trilogy. We shall see.

Literacy was the same as yesterday in that the class worked on their most excellent mini-projects. Truly, I haven’t seen an inferior project all year – big and small! I will have to do some reading comprehension tomorrow.

In math, we did something that hasn’t been done before this year. We are doing data, problem solving, etc. and today’s lesson focused on pictographs with data collection. Since my room is already arranged so that the class is divided into five groups, each group had a mission to visit a pre-determined classroom and survey the students (and the teacher too if desired) about their favorite color from a list. Each of the other four 3rd grade teachers were visited as well as Ms. Vinson’s 2nd grade class across the hall from my room.

Before sending them out, we went over tally marks. I reviewed the standard tally marks with four vertical line segments with a fifth diagonal to represent five.

I also went over the method taught to some students in India where they do it by making a box. Below is a graphic that I created to show the differences and similarities.

Once they had their data, I asked each group which color was the most popular. Each member of the group received a piece of paper matching the color that was most popular. For example, Group 1 went to Ms. Vinson’s 2nd grade class and found pink to be the most popular so each member received a pink piece of paper.

Then, the task was to create a pictograph to represent the data in a creative manner. Oh yes, the creativity is, as always, astounding! I cannot wait to post these up on the bulletin board in the hallway!!!!

Lastly, I will not be in tomorrow. I have a dental appointment in the morning and then a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. I do not yet have a substitute as I type this but I will update this if I find out in a reasonable amount of time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014The students came in on a rainy Wednesday and I could already tell that were definitely staying indoors for recess. However, few if any in my class were disappointed by this since it means get the tablets/computers and play Minecraft. I would like to learn more about it since it is very popular and a lot of teachers use it.

The warm-up had only four problems today and again one entire side was devoted to only one problem. It was the kind where there are four different graphs to choose from and only one of them accurately expresses the data in a tally chart. The other three required some thought such as determining which equation does not fit in with the others. The other two were definitely multi-step problems.

In math, we devoted the time to solving multi-step problems with one exception that involved algebra. The others required at least two steps and some were more difficult than others. We went over each one step-by-step. In my experience, both as a teacher and as a student who struggled with word problems, that practice will make it easier.

Below is a copy in .pdf format of the Smart Board Notebook that I used today along with some of the student work.

Science was a continuation of yesterday’s assignment along with an additional assignment in the textbook. But at the beginning, I did a quick experiment involving light and a light meter. I shined the light from a powerful spotlight directly into the light meter and of course it registered maximum. As a student moved further back, it was observed that the meter reading went down in proportion to the distance from the light source….this demonstrated that the sun’s influence lessens the further away one gets.

Lastly, the Singapore Math assignment has been given out.

Students who have book 3B will do pages 67-71

Students who have book 4A will do pages 67-72

Tuesday, March 11, 2014The warm-up activity in math that I created for today is a bit different. The entire left half of the page is comprised of only one problem. It is one of those problems where the student needs to determine which of the graphs best represents the data in a given chart. Yet, this one actually has two graphs that will be accepted as correct answers. The other side requires the student to determine the fraction of a whole number along with two questions based on a chart. Yes, just four questions today but they are four good ones that make them think!

In literacy, I continued reading Dragons of Winter Night and getting towards the end of it. I am both happy and frustrated. I am happy that the students are really into this series but am frustrated that a few of them have taken it upon themselves to do a little research and find out some things about the story that don’t get revealed until the very end. However, their exposure to the spoilers doesn’t affect their interest in the series.

The class also continued with their choice menu activities though I did allocate time for independent reading this time around. I decided to not do a reading comprehension activity where they read a passage and answer questions, usually in a multiple choice format. While this is important and we have to be prepared for the testing at the end of May, I don’t want that to overshadow the importance of reading itself. Besides, MAP testing (the final one!) is coming up soon.

Speaking of MAP testing, my class is going to pilot the use of the iPads for taking the test. If more classes can do this sort of testing with tablets, it will free up the computer lab. Plus, my class is comprised of students who don’t need a lot of instruction nor help in navigating the different mobile operating systems (Android, IOS, etc.). Besides, these “digital natives” can even teach me a few things.

In science, we did an assignment out of the book concerning the solar system. It is a good review and can hit on anything that I didn’t cover the last time around.

Math was a bit different. As I had mentioned yesterday, I gave them a multiplication and division assessment and had them self-check. This was straight-out arithmetic….just numbers and using algorithms to solve. I wanted to see if they had mastered it so they can be ready for using the calculators on a limited basis. I saw that they are ready to use the calculators. There is NO question that they are ready! However, we did not use calculators today. We focused on problem solving.

Each student was grouped according to a number drawn at random from 1-5. I had some index cards with a number from one to five written on them. I came to the students and had each of them draw any card face down. Once the whole class had their cards, they were to turn them over. Five different locations in the room were designated for the different groups and students were grouped according to the number on the card.

All of them were given the activity and worked on it together. Once finished, the group had to choose a spokesperson and then they could read independentl

y.Below is both a copy of the activity as well as the Smart Board notebook that shows the student responses.

Monday, March 10, 2014Unlike Friday’s cold and rainy start we had a warm and sunny start to this week and that is just fine with me! It is nice to be outside and not stuck inside though the students hardly complain about going online if we are forced to have indoor recess. Admittedly, it allows me more time to get things accomplished but that’s ok….I don’t mind since being outside today was well worth it.

The students came in to a warm up that had a good variety of content with one problem reviewing area. However, there didn’t appear to be any issues with solving it. Good!

I did not get to read aloud Dragons of Winter Night after the announcements this morning like I normally do since we held our annual tornado drill. Since I have been teaching for quite a while now (this is my 15th year) I have learned from experience to have the students tuck in their shirts beforehand. Thankfully this year I was spared the “plumbers’ convention.”

After giving out the reading practice, I introduced the new choice menu (see below). I pared this one down to five choices and only one of them needs to be completed by Friday.

In math, I gave them their multiplication and division test. This was originally planned to have been done Friday but the schedule didn’t allow for it. The students had 20 division problems WITH a remainder and then a choice of 12 multiplication problems using either the lattice method or the traditional method. It was pretty much the same thing just with a different way of solving. Then, they self-checked under the black light. This was to make sure that they are ready to start using calculators on a limited basis to solve problems as well as doing more complex calculations.

Since the 3D fraction projects are due today, I began hanging them up around the room. I am very impressed with the creativity though I can’t say that I was surprised by it. Awesome job!

The Singapore Math books were distributed today so that clears up about two cubic feet of space in my cabinets.

Lastly, as I mentioned on Friday it is my goal to have an activity posted on classmarker.com for your child to do at home.

Friday, March 07, 2014A cold and rainy day was in store for us and there was no way that we were going outside for recess. Since today is a tech day, the only problem was getting the students to put their devices down so they could go eat.

The morning work went pretty well and I am shifting the focus to operations and algebraic thinking for the time being. From what I am hearing, about 30-35% of the EOG test will be about that concept. If approximately 1/3 of the test is covering that, then it is truly a no-brainer as to what I am going to hit for a few weeks. This doesn’t mean that the warm-up will be solely about it…..it will continue to have a variety of problems that will review other material.

We continued reading aloud Dragons of Winter Night and are now 2/3 of the way through the book.

We also had to do another reading benchmark today that didn’t take long. This benchmark’s focus is to help us decide how to group students for reading Hive Time in two weeks. Hive Time will be covering math for the next two weeks and operations and algebraic thinking will be the topic of review.

I am not doing spelling words for next week. I am giving out the Singapore Math books on Monday since I am assigning the homework on that day too. We will move from Books 3A and 3B to 3B and 4A.

Progress reports in math and literacy were given out today with your child. I also instructed all of my students to bring home their login information for you to access www.classmarker.com.

That is what we did in Tech Time today. My goal for next week is to have another activity for your child to do at home. I will have to limit each student to one attempt per activity since I only get 100 credits each month.

I signed up for the education package which gives us 100 credits per month. Each time someone takes a test or does an assigned activity, it counts as one credit. If four activities are assigned per month, I should be within the limit without any issues.

Thursday, March 06, 2014I can't believe that this particular page is already over 1100 hits. That is just counting since it was placed there though I don't really remember when.

Today they came in to the normal warm-up activity. There was one question on elapsed time. While it will be on the test at the end of the year, I don't think that I will need to focus too heavily on it since this is something that the class has mastered. It won't hurt to review it from time to time but I don't foresee a heavy focus on it.

We continued reviewing reading comprehension and I gave the class time to work on their choice menu projects in class.

At 11:00 we again switched for science and social studies. Tomorrow, the class will be given time to finish their assignments as well as having a quiz on the solar system content. Ms. Allen's class will get to self-check their work which is something that my class is used to doing. As of this writing I am not certain which method I will use until tomorrow. This depends on whether or not I can get it printed at home in a satisfactory manner.

What I am talking about is putting on a pair of red decoder glasses to see the answers. This requires a special approach and I *think* I have it down. Otherwise, I will write the answers in invisible ink and the students can use the black light to check.

In math, we reviewed area and perimeter. For the first time, I used the Smart Board's ten-sided dice and calculator features that I just realized existed. While it is very exciting to learn about all of the goodies that the Smart Board has available, it is frustrating on a personal level since I wish I knew about them at the beginning of the year rather than have to be self-taught. Oh well. This does tell me, based on the students' work, that they may be ready for heavier problem solving and using calculators. We will find out tomorrow when I give them a test on the operations and see how well they do.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone of a few things:

1) There is no spelling test tomorrow

2) The Singapore Math is a bust since I had already assigned it before

3) Tomorrow is a tech day

4) I am giving out the second Singapore Math book tomorrow

5) Progress reports went home and I am going to be entering grades throughout the week next week so please look for a second progress report on Thursday or Friday of next week.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014This week we continued the focus on reading comprehension during third grade’s Hive Time. As a reminder, Hive Time is scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week from 1:00 to 1:45. The next two weeks will be math-based.

After reading aloud Dragons of Winter Night, I returned yesterday’s reading passage and we went over each of the five questions. Most of the class did pretty well but the concern that I have for reading comprehension isn’t a lack of it but in taking one’s time and reading the questions carefully. This is something that needs to be worked on before the EOG tests.

Once that was done with, the students continued to work on the choice menu mini projects.

At 11:00, we again switched for science and social studies and we will be doing that tomorrow and Friday as well.

In science, we reviewed the characteristics of the inner (terrestrial – rock) and outer (jovian – gas) planets along with how the sun’s influence (gravitational pull and radiation) lessens the further away one gets from the sun. I also did an experiment that worked this time around. I picked up a powerful spotlight (2 million candlepower) and shined it directly at a light meter. Since it was so close to the light source, the light meter maxed out. By shining the light downwards, I went around the room and showed each group.

Next, I picked a volunteer to hold the light meter towards me while I shined it at the device (her eyes were averted, of course!). Each time I did this, my student volunteer backed further away and reported that the light meter displayed a lower reading.

This was a demonstration of how the sun’s radiation loses influence as one gets further out into space.

Then, the class continued working on their two assignments from the textbook. However, a number of students were finished and it was necessary to assign a more challenging activity. With my demonstration/experiment in mind, they had to design a way to prove what I had just proven but in a different way. I am excited to see what they come up with!

In math, today’s focus was on telling time via an analog clock and calculating elapsed time. Despite this being something most students in my class (if not all) have already mastered, it is still a third grade skill and I wanted to make sure that it was covered.

Friday, not tomorrow, will be a tech day so all students who are able (or allowed to) can bring in their devices.

I have posted a practice reading comprehension activity online. If you are interested in having your child do it, click on the link below.

Click Here

Lastly, there is a movie night tomorrow night (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) in the gym at 6:00 (doors open at 5:30). This is to support the 4th graders. Concessions will be available for purchase (pizza, water, candy).

Tuesday, March 04, 2014Yesterday brought us rain and colder temperatures as the day wore on culminating in sleet and then freezing temperatures. However, we were not affected at all by the weather this time and I am grateful that the routine hasn’t been disrupted. That is good since we are going to be hitting the standards hard for the next 2 ½ months until we arrive at testing.

Today’s warm-up in math was mostly disgusting food-based but had the students do multiple steps in solving the problems.

We continued with the read aloud book, Dragons of Winter Night and are getting to the one third mark in the book. This is interesting since it is a longer book and I have less time to read aloud. But, we are progressing.

We did a reading passage today and also worked on the choice menu.

We continued this week’s switching for science and social studies. My focus in science remains the solar system. We had a review discussion and then I added a second assignment. I will allow some class time tomorrow to finish and then move on.

In math, we finished up the benchmark assessment. I am interested in seeing how they did on the variety of material. It will give me a good idea of what needs to be focused on.

Monday, March 03, 2014The first day of March greets us! With March comes spring (and spring fever) and the promise of nicer weather. I noticed about half of the class has begun bringing in their math projects already. They are due next Monday but I don’t mind at all. Again, I am very impressed at the creativity that I am seeing. This is why I try to keep rules and guidelines to a minimum since the reward is a superb variety of greatness!

We did the warm-up as usual. Today’s focus was more than just fractions. We will be doing more diverse stuff this week.

We also continued reading aloud Dragons of Winter Night and gave the class time to work on their choice board project. There was also a main idea activity.

At 11:00 we switched for science and social studies and will do it each day this week. I am anticipating two weeks of science for my class too. Ms. Allen’s class continued working on their reading assignment on the solar system and I am expecting everyone to be finished tomorrow.

In math, it was necessary to administer another math assessment that was not just fractions. The scanner is not up yet from what I have been told so Friday’s assessment will have to be graded the old fashioned way. Today’s will be scanned as soon as the scanner itself is operational. Since there are 40 questions that cover a variety of content, I told the class to take their time and to not rush. I will be giving them time tomorrow.

I am planning on going deeper into fractions Wednesday with adding and subtracting with like denominators. The reasoning behind this is that it helps with the understanding of the differing values of fractions in terms of comparing and contrasting. It also keeps greatest common factor fresh in their minds since that skill is used to reduce fractions to their simplest forms.

Lastly, as I mentioned before, there are no spelling words this week but the math homework is as follows:

Singapore Math Book 3A: Pages 104-110

Singapore Math Book 3B: Pages 70-76

This will be the last time I assign this book for homework. I will be passing out the second book that you purchased back in the fall by the end of the week.

Friday, February 28, 2014Since this is Friday, the students now go to their specials from 10:10-10:55. So on Fridays I do this blog entry during that time.

The morning work is below for downloading. It again attempts to prepare the class for today’s 3rd grade math test this afternoon by having problems that are similar yet not totally the same (congruent) as the test.

After specials we switched for science and social studies where we did a review activity until it was time for recess and lunch.

I showed them a brief video from NASA showing water in a microgravity environment and what the water does when the balloon is popped. Since the DC-9 plane only gives the astronauts about 30 seconds to experience microgravity and weightlessness, they don’t have a lot of time to do this.

When they popped the water balloon, it was interesting to watch the water coalesce into a rough sphere. If they had more than just 30 seconds, the water would have formed a sphere just like the planets. This is a proof that anything with mass has gravity.

When we returned from lunch, we took the spelling test and did a main idea activity for the second part of literacy.

After literacy, the 3rd grade math test was administered. This test has 20 multiple choice questions, some with three answer choices while others had four. All of the questions were centered on fraction identification and finding a fraction on a number line. The neat thing is that each student was given his/her own scan sheet to bubble in answers. I believe we are going to run them through the scanner on Monday while they are in specials. As silly as it sounds, I am very excited about it since I have always wanted to see that. It makes me wish that I had my own optical mark reader in my class especially with the prices coming way down. However, that is wishful thinking since the trend in student assessment is to get away from filling in circles on a bubble sheet and towards online assessments. We are moving from strictly multiple choice to multiple response where there could be more than one correct response but students are going to have to explain their answers.

Thursday, February 27, 2014Today we began reading Dragons of Winter Night. I am going to read this one and Dragons of Spring Dawning and then stop. About ten years after the publication of the original trilogy (1984-1985) another book was published titled Dragons of Summer Flame. I hated that book and I don’t want to read it. Rumor has it that the authors were contractually obligated to write it and transition into a “5th age” so they killed off a lot of characters in a literary massacre. It was a grudging book that they wrote. Of course, that is just rumor but I can see why people would say that.

There is also a Legends trilogy that centers on three of the original characters from this trilogy but I will end it after the next book. I am sure that I will be tired of this fantasy world by then. Students are free to read it if they like.

Today’s warm up was a little bit shorter in content due to it being heavier with graphics but I felt that they were necessary. I want to approach fractions and other types of problems from different angles since we never know what to expect on the tests. Besides, this gives the students a lot of practice with problem solving.

I had to leave for training and was gone a part of the day. I did pick up the students after lunch and we did a math review with greatest common factor, fractions, etc.

The training was concerning me being appointed the new webmaster for the school’s website. There is a learning curve on this one but I will do my best to keep it great!

Also, I want to remind everyone that the homework is due tomorrow as well as there will be the spelling test.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014I am sure that you know by now that the school board voted last night to save spring break! I don’t know about you but for me, that was a relief! Of course, they did emphasize the fact that winter isn’t over yet and if any more school days are missed due to inclement weather, they will have to be made up and during spring break at that. Let us hope that there is no more of that for the rest of the year!

The students continued reviewing fractions for the morning work as shown below.

We also finished reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I am still not sure if I want to read Dragons of Winter Night or not. As I write this, my mind is veering towards doing something else but that can easily change. If I was to decide here and now, it would be Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

The class also continued studying main idea with another activity in which they read a passage, chose the best answer, and self-checked at the back with the red decoder glasses. I know that the picture from yesterday only vaguely showed the answer and what you mostly saw was a large red rectangle. I have to carefully balance readability with invisibility (or the illusion of it) to make sure that the answers aren’t easily seen without the aid of the glasses. I assure you that here in the classroom, if you were to put on the glasses, you would see the correct answers more clearly.

In math, the focus has moved away from fractions on a number line to fractions in general for Friday’s test. The test is multiple choice, some questions have four answer choice while others have three. There are 20 problems/questions strictly focused on fractions and each student will have his/her own bubble sheet.

Though it does seem that students are testing a lot, this is necessary in preparation for mandated testing at the end of the year and we want to do our best to prepare each student as much as we can. But, please be assured that the instructional focus each day will continue to be on learning rather than test prep.

We also had a quicker lesson since they have mastered the fractions part up to this point. I even briefly covered multiplying fractions too.

In science, we did the activity out in the hallway…..

Before doing the activity below, I had to go over the unit of measurement called the Astronomical Unit (AU) which is the average distance from the sun to the Earth (»93,000,000 miles/150,000,00 km). So, the Earth is 1 AU from the sun. Mars is 1.5 AU and so on. Since astronomy deals with such vast distances, the AU helps make the numbers more manageable. That is why, for example, distances beyond the solar system such as stars and galaxies are measured in light years instead of miles. Why? A light year is the distance that light will travel in space, in a vacuum, over the length of one Earth year. It is approximately 6 trillion miles or »6,000,000,000,000. Our nearest stellar neighbor is the star Alpha Centauri which is 4.5 light years or »27,000,000,000,000 miles away. That is a LOT of zeroes!

I used a device called the Solar System Mapping Tool which is really a glorified tape measure. Since I have 20 students and there are 10 separate places on the tool, I chose two students for each place (sun, Mercury, etc.). Then, since the tool is 61 feet in length, we had to go into the hallway to do this.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014Today we continued our focus on main idea and fractions. The class did the warm-up and found an error on the last question so I had to omit it. The fact that the ENTIRE class, student after student, caught the error, shows me that they have it down! I am going to spend today on it while tomorrow’s focus will be fractions in general to prepare for Friday’s test. This is a VERY good sign! Great job!

We also continued reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Then, I did something different today and it turned out to be a great success. Since our focus was on main idea, the students had a reading passage that covered main idea questions. This time, they self-checked at the back with a different method. Instead of revealing the answers in invisible ink via the black light, I posted the answer key and scribbled red ink over it. By wearing red decoder glasses (like 3D glasses but they have two red lenses rather than red and cyan), the lens filters out the red ink and reveals the text underneath. The class loved it and I will do this more often!

Below is a picture taken with the red lens over the iPad camera. It didn't turn out too well but it gives you an idea. It does look much clearer with one's own eyes.

At 11:00 we switched for social studies.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class came and we continued the study of the solar system with a weird video that gave a thirty minute overview of astronomy. Tomorrow, we will do the fun solar system relative distance activity.

In math, we continued with fractions on a number line.

Monday, February 24, 2014Another Monday and another start to another week is what we came into this morning. Let us all hope that this week will be free of anything out of the ordinary. This also marks the last week in February and the last full month of winter. Normally, I like the cold weather but this year I am ready for spring!!!!

The students’ morning work in math reflected the area of need that I mentioned on Friday with the concept of locating a fraction on a number line. So, that is what the focus was mostly about though there were two of them that deviated to not include the number line. There is going to be a 3rd grade math test this Friday that is covering fractions so I am trying to prepare them as best as I can. As I mentioned to the class this morning concerning the test, I am not concerned about them not knowing the material as much as I am concerned about them over-thinking and over-analyzing the problems. TD students have a tendency to complicate that which is really simple in nature. So, I am working on that too.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight and we are now ¾ of the way through the book. We also began a new week where students worked on mini-projects for the choice menu. This week, the menu will remain the same but next Monday I am going to alter it for the sake of variety.

In math, as I have already mentioned, we focused heavily on locating a fraction on a number line. I had 15 of those problems created and was planning on spending a good chunk of the class period today to go over them step-by-step. Well, I DID go over a few step-by-step but it became very clear, very quickly, that the class had it mastered. So, I gave them the in-class assignment (self-checked on the blacklight) and all I heard was how easy it was.

BUT, I am still going to cover it tomorrow as well as Wednesday and Thursday to be sure. I will also be reviewing fractions in general.

Also, the math project that was assigned last month was due a week from Today. This is the 3D fraction project that I have mentioned. Now, due to the month of February being absolutely crazy and disrupted, I am extending the deadline another week. The students don’t know this yet but it is now due on Monday, March 10. Below is both the rubric that will be used to grade it and a copy of the guidelines.

Friday, February 21, 2014Happy Friday! I am writing this while the students are in their specials class (computer lab) at the new time of 10:10 to 10:55 to accommodate Hive Time and to make sure that it is a common time for all.

We continued reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. We are now slightly more than halfway through the book. Below is a copy of the warm up activity.

Since I am leaving this afternoon for a workshop AND the dance is this afternoon, I wanted to do the science. So after specials, this is what we did…..

In science, the big activity was concerning an understanding of the relative distances of planets and other bodies in the solar system from the sun. I did not do this activity with Ms. Allen’s class since the necessary item did not yet arrive but both activities are similar in rigor, relevance, and engagement.

Before doing the activity below, I had to go over the unit of measurement called the Astronomical Unit (AU) which is the average distance from the sun to the Earth (»93,000,000 miles/150,000,00 km). So, the Earth is 1 AU from the sun. Mars is 1.5 AU and so on. Since astronomy deals with such vast distances, the AU helps make the numbers more manageable. That is why, for example, distances beyond the solar system such as stars and galaxies are measured in light years instead of miles. Why? A light year is the distance that light will travel in space, in a vacuum, over the length of one Earth year. It is approximately 6 trillion miles or »6,000,000,000,000. Our nearest stellar neighbor is the star Alpha Centauri which is 4.5 light years or »27,000,000,000,000 miles away. That is a LOT of zeroes!

I used a device called the Solar System Mapping Tool which is really a glorified tape measure. Since I have 20 students and there are 10 separate places on the tool, I chose two students for each place (sun, Mercury, etc.). Then, since the tool is 61 feet in length, we had to go into the hallway to do this.

Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, 2014Welcome to the longest stretch of the school year! This is the period from the beginning of January to spring break, which is longer this time around with Easter being in April. This is the time of the year where the breaks are fewer and far between while simultaneously things get crazier and more hectic.

I had to leave after dropping my class off at the cafeteria for a workshop required for all CMS 3rd grade teachers. It covered literacy, which is the major focus, and doing interactive read-alouds, etc. That is something I do every day and yet there were still some valuable take-aways from it. I am here all day today for this evening is the Read to Achieve parent night with the students performing after the information session of the Read to Achieve legislation and how it affects 3rd graders.

I am writing this in the morning so I am taking a leap of faith that there will be nothing disruptive to the schedule.

Below are the two warm-up activities from today and yesterday. As you can see, I am touching on multi-step problem solving and incorporating fractions.

In literacy, we continued with reading aloud Dragons of Autumn Twilight. We are actually getting close to being at the half-way point in the book. It is a good sized novel with a lot that has happened so far and a lot more that will happen later on. I keep debating about whether or not to keep reading the series beyond this book. My thinking at this point, which is in constant flux, is that I will do an old favorite: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM. It is only a thought so please don’t be surprised if it changes.

We also finished up on the choice menu. The individual choices were supposed to have been finished two weeks ago but with the weather related disruptions I wanted to be sure that there was time enough. The students will choose two more

ones next week.differentThe spelling test is tomorrow. I just want to remind everyone that I will continue to do spelling words until sometime after spring break. The period from spring break until about mid-May is the intense time when schools prepare their students for the big tests. It may be necessary to use the time normally for spelling tests to focus more on reading comprehension first and foremost until after testing is over. However, that is still at least two months into the future so that is all tentative.

At the end of literacy, I spent some class time allowing students to make their own paper airplanes for engineering week. The big contest is tomorrow for the winner of each class. The rules are: students must make the plane at school using standard copy paper or notebook paper; nothing can be added to it. I gave my students paper and then we went to work.

Congratulations to Carson whose plane came in first place and to Armaan who was the runner up. Good luck Carson!!!

In math, we continued our focus on fractions. We reviewed both finding the fraction of a whole number and determining where on a number line that a fraction would be placed.

Today's in-class assignment was very valuable since it showed me that a lot of students are still struggling with the number line and fractions. So, I am going to have to put everything else on hold until this concept has been mastered. Tomorrow's math focus will be more instructional and the independent work much shorter in duration.

Since there is not enough time today due to practicing for the performance, I am going to devote about half of the literacy block tomorrow for science. We will be going over the solar system and the relative distances between all of the bodies within.

I also want to mention that I will have to leave early tomorrow for another training session in literacy (Words Their Way). This time it will be from 1:00 onward and I do have a substitute. That is another reason why I want to get the science done. That should be the last professional development session that I know of.

Lastly, I do not know how many of you are subscribers to the BeeMail that the PTA sends out so I am pasting a copy of it below.

BeeMailHere's the latest buzz...QUICK LINKSCMS Website

Lunch Menu

Barringer Website

BAC PTA Website

CMS Volunteer Login

BAC TD Website

BAC on Facebook

Email Barringer

Email BeeMail

IN THIS ISSUESpirit Wear

Read to Achieve Information Session

Reading Buddies

Second Quarter AR Winners

Family Movie Night

Support our Fourth Graders

PTA Positions 2014-2015

Club Volunteers Needed

Meeting the Needs of Gifted Children

School Nurses in CMS

CMS Budget Information

Love the Bus Month

DATES TO REMEMBERFeb. 20:Third Grade Parent Night, 5:30 - 7:00Feb. 21:Spirit Wear Orders DueFeb. 27:Read to Achieve Information Session, 6-7 at the Stratford YMCAMarch 6:Family Movie Night, 5:30March 20:CMS Parent Event: Social/Emotional Needs of Gifted Children, 6:30, WaddellSpring Spirit Wear SaleDid you miss your chance to order Spirit Wear in our new design last Fall? Tomorrow -- Friday, February 21 -- is the last day to turn in orders for our spring Spirit Wear sale. Make checks payable to Barringer PTA and turn your order in to the main office or your teacher. Shirts will be sent home with students the week of March 17th.

Read to Achieve Information SessionsThe third grade parent meeting including student performances as well as an explanation and discussion of North Carolina's new Read to Achieve law will take place tonight, Thursday, February 20, at 5:30 in the BAC gymnasium. This law requires new reading assessments, summer reading camps, and possible grade retention for many third graders. Third grade parents who were unable to attend this meeting or the information session earlier this week are encouraged to come to our final information session on Thursday, February 27, from 6-7 PM at the Stratford YMCA (1946 West Blvd.). Click herefor more information about Read to Achieve and how it will affect our students.

Reading BuddiesWe are recruiting volunteers to serve as Reading Buddies for K-3 students. Volunteers can have a real impact on a child's success with only a 30-45 minute weekly time commitment. No previous experience or formal training is necessary…only the desire to make a difference! If you are interested in helping, please click here to sign up for a day and time that fits your schedule, and you will be contacted by our tutoring coordinator with more information.

Second Quarter AR WinnersCongratulations to our class AR winners for the second quarter! These classes achieved the highest participation level (percent of students meeting their AR goal) or point total:

Kindergarten:Ms. Abernethy (100% participation) and Ms. Muffler (173.7 points)First Grade:Ms. Beaube (85.7% participation) and Ms. Moore (334.6 points)Second Grade:Ms. Will (86% participation, 582.7 points)Third Grade:Ms. Gross (100% participation, 1105.2 points)Fourth Grade:Ms. Woods (82% participation, 1401 points)Fifth Grade:Mr. Lemere (90% participation) and Ms. Boyd (1146.9)Family Movie NightBAC will host a Family Movie Night on Thursday, March 6 -- bring your family to watch

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2in the gym! Doors open at 5:30 and the movie will begin promptly at 6:00. Admission is only $3 per family and includes popcorn! Other concessions (pizza, water, candy) will also be available, or bring your own picnic dinner. All proceeds will benefit the fourth grade field trip to BizTown. Volunteers are needed to assist with concessions; if you are able to help click here to sign up.Help our Fourth Graders Get to BizTown!All Barringer fourth graders will take a trip to BizTown in March. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about economics and personal finance as they experience being citizens and consumers of a working "town". You can help raise the funds to pay for the trip by attending Family Movie Night on March 6 or visiting this fundraising website.

PTA Positions 2014-2015Interested in chairing or co-chairing one of Barringer

's PTA committees? Let us hear from you! We have several committees whose chairs who are in their final year as BAC parents, including Yearbook, Grounds, and Spirit Wear. You can find a list and descriptions of all committees on the PTA website. If you are interested in serving and/or would like more information, contact Nominating Committee chair Elizabeth Roop at eproop78@yahoo.com.

Club Volunteers NeededParents are needed to help out with the Nature Explorers and Fiber Arts clubs on Fridays from 3:00-4:00. Nature Explorers is a club for second and third graders learning about nature and gardening, sponsored by Ms. Turner (pamela.turner@cms.k12.nc.us). Fiber Arts, sponsored by Ms. Metcalf (evelynl.metcalf@cms.k12.nc.us), is a club for second and third graders learning knitting, sewing, and related skills. Experience in these areas is helpful but not required and you do not have to have a child in the club! If you are interested in helping with either club please contact the sponsor.

CMS Parent Event: Social & Emotional Needs of Gifted ChildrenOn Thursday, March 20, CMS will host a parent event exploring the social and emotional needs of gifted children, featuring Dr. Rick D. Courtright, Gifted Education Specialist with the Talent Identification Program at Duke University. This event will be held at Waddell Language Academy from 6:30 - 8:30 PM. Detailed information about the presentation can be found here.

School Nurses in CMSDid you know that many schools (including Barringer) do not have a full-time nurse, and that funding for school nurses comes from the county, not from CMS? A new group called NC Parents Advocating for School Health is working to get more nurses in schools. You can find more information about the importance of school nurses and how concerned parents can get involved at their website, www.ncpash.weebly.com, or contact the group atncschoolhealth@gmail.com.

CMS Budget InformationCMS is seeking community input on its 2014-15 budget. Parents are invited to take an online budget survey as well as attend one of five community engagement meetings:

Feb. 26: West Charlotte High School

March 3: Myers Park High School

March 10: Bradley Middle School

April 21: Hopewell High School

April 24: South Mecklenburg High School

All meetings will be from 6:00 - 7:30 PM. For more information, visit the Budget/Capital Plan page of the CMS website.

Love the Bus MonthThe wheels on the bus could not go “round and round” without the bus drivers who navigate North Carolina’s roads to make sure students get to and from school safely each day. That is why State Superintendent June Atkinson is encouraging parents, teachers, school leaders and students to recognize these drivers during national Love the Bus month in February. Click here for more information from the NC State Board of Education, and be sure to say a special thank you to your bus driver this month!

Copyright © 2014 Barringer Academic Center PTA, All rights reserved.BeeMail is sent weekly to members of the Barringer community to keep you informed about events at school. If you no longer wish to receive BeeMail, please click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email!

Our mailing address is:Barringer Academic Center PTA1546 Walton Rd

Charlotte, NC 28208

Tuesday, February 18, 2014Tonight is going to be the first Read to Achieve night at the YMCA near the school. The parent night here at Barringer will be this Thursday at 5:30 and should last until about 7:00. There will be an information session first about the Read to Achieve legislation and then the student performance.

Today’s warm up focused more on multistep problem solving but still incorporated fractions though I did not have the space for probability today. From the information that is coming in, the EOG test in math will be heavy on the multistep problems involving multiple operations (first add then divide, etc.) so I am going to be keeping that in sight as we continue with fractions. I still want to at least touch on multiplying fractions before moving on. I know that I had mentioned adding fractions as well as compound probability but it might be more prudent to wait until after testing is over with before finishing up the year with the other stuff. According to our pacing guide, we are scheduled to revisit area and perimeter, measuring liquids and mass, and multiplying and dividing within 100.

Your children, however, can multiply and divide within any number but it doesn’t hurt to review and go deeper. We will begin to use calculators more frequently once the basics have been mastered. I am hesitant to use them because they can be a distraction and I don’t want ANY of my students going to 4th grade with a deficiency in the basic operations.

We are going to emphasize more justification of one’s answers as well. Since we are getting towards the end of the curriculum and start reviewing, I want each student to be able to explain WHY a particular answer was reached. This will prepare them for the tests that are in the near future and make them think critically.

Math was a continuation of yesterday in which students had to find the fraction of a given whole number. For example, 2/3 of 21 is 14. I did teach them the multiplying fractions method as well as the cross reducing way.

With science, we began studying Earth and space science. We started out with reviewing the solar system, its bodies, the sun and its gravitational pull, why the Earth experiences seasons, and why gravity with centripetal force keeps everything in place, including water.

I showed them a website that shows the realistic orbits of all of the planets in our solar system in relation to each other.

http://dd.dynamicdiagrams.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/orrery_2006.swf

With that, we did two experiments/demonstrations. The first one involved a student holding a globe and another holding up a spotlight. The spotlight represents the sun and the one holding the globe held walked around the “sun” to demonstrate its orbit.

The graphic below shows why the seasons are reversed. In July, the northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight resulting in summer while the southern hemisphere receives less, resulting in winter. In January, it is the opposite.

The second demonstration was concerning gravity and centripetal force. Centripetal force is the force that causes an object to push inward. In astronomy, in our case, gravity supplies the centripetal force. This is the reason why everything stays on the Earth and why objects fall. It is also the reason why the ocean stays where it is at.

This leads to the demonstration. I used a device called the Spill-not®. I placed a plastic cup of water in my hands and asked the class what would happen if I moved it around. The answer, of course, is that it will slosh around and possibly spill out if enough force is used.

I then placed it on the Spill-not® and spun it around. By action of centripetal force, the cup (and the water!) remained in place even when upside down.

The animation below shows how gravity keeps one down on the ground.

Tomorrow the focus will be on the moon.

Monday, February 17, 2014Welcome back to what was originally planned as a teacher workday that is now a normal school day. I hope that everyone enjoyed the snow days since we are paying for them. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we will be given some flexibility in how those missed days will be dealt with. At least the likelihood of any additional missed days is low. I am hoping for a return to normality so the students can settle back into what they like best: a routine!

In keeping with the spirit of the routine, the students returned to a math warm-up that was based on what they already knew. Though about a third of it was based on probability, we have touched on it prior to this since it uses fractions and fractions in simplest form. Merely, probability at this point is the application of what they already know and taking it a small step further.

In literacy, I continued reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight which as hooked the students as much as the Shadow Children, Tripods, and Little House series before that.

We also started to focus on the skill of main idea and supporting detail.

In math, we continued with fractions but instead of just focusing on mixed and improper fractions the emphasis was on finding the fractional value of a whole number. Huh? All it means is, as an example, what is ½ of 40? Easy! You divide by two. That was the easy part. However, I am sure that you know that I can’t let it be THAT simple can I? So, I also had them figure out stuff like 2/14 of 42. Since this is math and math is the science of patterns, take what you know and apply the same rules as before. Divide 42 by 14 to get a quotient of 3. 3 is 1/14 of 42. However, we need to know what 2/14 of 42 is so we take three and multiply it by two to get six. 6 is 2/14 of 42.

We will continue with this as well as introducing adding fractions with like denominators and multiplying fractions, which is by-far the easiest operation in fractions. Plus, learning the operations is a VERY useful thing with fractions so that is the direction we will go in. Also, once multiplication of fractions is mastered and if there is time, we will do compound probabilities. That is something that I enjoyed teaching my 6th graders but I want to make sure that the existing content has been mastered first.

Once that is the case, we will do compound probability. For example, if there is a bag of ten marbles (eight blue and two red), the probability of reaching into the bag and pulling out a blue marble is 8/10 or 4/5 (a four in five chance). The students already know this.

Now, the compound part is figuring the probability of a person reaching into the same bag, pulling out a blue marble, putting it back, and pulling out another blue marble. 4/5 x 4/5 =16/25. There is a 16 in 25 chance of that happening.

Another way is the example of reaching into the bag, pulling out a blue marble, KEEPING IT, and reaching in to get another blue. 4/5 x 7/9=28/45. Why the 7/9? Because there were ten marbles and with one taken out there are nine left.

That will give you an idea of what will be covered once everything else has been mastered. I want to make sure that the students have everything in the pacing guide down pat first and foremost.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014Today, we dismiss early and I am highly doubtful about tomorrow. If the forecast is correct, Wednesday is a lost cause. At least today some learning was accomplished with the time we had together.

I also want to thank all of the parents who signed up for the text alerts! I also would like to thank all of you for your very quick responses yesterday and this morning to let me know how your child will get home. That saved me a LOT of time and gave me more time to focus on my class.

We did focus on literacy today due to the schedule. I continued reading aloud the book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the kids are getting hooked on it. Yes!!! I am still not sure if I am going to read Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning but we shall see. The books mentioned comprise the Chronicles Trilogy. There are three more (Legends - Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, Test of the Twins) books plus Dragons of Summer Flame. I don't believe we will come anywhere near reading them.

The homework is the Singapore Math books.....

Book 3A: Pages 28-37

Book 3B: Pages 67-76

Monday, February 10, 2014Today we began the week with the uncertainty of snow and snow days. I will definitely be keeping a close watch for any school announcements related to the weather but I will send out a text/email blast and send out a Tweet from my Twitter account. Should the weather be bad enough tomorrow to warrant an early dismissal, please let me know ASAP how your child will be getting home.

In literacy, we did one more day of idioms and figurative expressions with the following: "You are what you eat," "Crying over spilt milk," "Tip of the iceberg," and "Thinking outside of the box."

We also took the spelling test that we did not have time for last Friday.

We also continued the read-aloud of Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

In math, we reviewed mixed numbers, improper fractions, and changing them back and forth. Students were given a choice of either one.

The homework for this week is Singapore Math:

Book 3a:

Book 3b:

Friday, February 07, 2014Today we began reading the new book in the new series. The book is Dragons of Autumn Twilight from the Dragonlance series that came out 30 years ago this year. We have done historical fiction, science fiction, and autobiography so now we are moving into fantasy. I will read the first book and see whether or not there is interest in continuing.

We did not get the time to do the spelling test due to clubs so I will do it on Monday.

In math, we continued with fractions and used the Socrative online response system.

In science, we continued exploring the solar system and did an experiment on how long it takes for the sun's energy to reach each part of the solar system.

This is going to have to be short today due to time constraints but Monday's will be longer and more in depth.

Thursday, February 06, 2014Since today is Thursday, stuff is going home. Your child’s report card envelope needs to be returned with the beige insert signed. You are welcome to keep the report card itself. Also, each parent is getting a blue sheet for you to update emergency dismissal and people authorized to pick up your child. There is also a letter informing you of parent night next Thursday as well as the award ceremony on Tuesday.

Today we did a warm-up that didn’t have as much in terms of sheer numbers but it still required some effort. Students had to try to color in as many ways of expressing how 12 can be grouped (1x12, 2x6, 6x2, 3x4, etc.) within the confines of the grid.

In literacy, we did some more idioms/figurative expressions and tomorrow will be the last day for it.

Today’s idioms/figurative expressions are: “Follow your nose”, “Pig out”, and “Under the weather.”

In math, we continued with fractions. While yesterday’s focus was learning how to change a mixed number to an improper fraction, today’s focus was the opposite: using long division to change an improper fraction to a mixed number. If time permits today, I will create a post a couple of narrated mini-lessons on both concepts.

Again, the students were given an in-class activity to self-check under the black light with the answers written in invisible ink.

In science, we focused on the moon, the lunar cycles, and eclipses.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014Today we continued with the usual schedule for a Wednesday, which is Hive Time in the afternoon (math this week). Below is the warm-up (with a typo on the answer key – the fraction should be 5/7, not 5/8).

We also continued with the read aloud of Among the Free. The Population Police have been overthrown but things aren’t necessarily good either. They will find out.

We also did two more idioms/figurative expressions. They are: “Out of line” and “Frog in your throat.”

In math, we began doing mixed numbers, how to express them, and how to convert them to an improper fraction. Students were given an activity and self-checked under the black light in the back.

Below is a link that I used for my Hive Time math group.

http://www.visualfractions.com/IdentifyLines/identifylines.html

We did not switch for science today.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014Today, we finished reading aloud Among the Enemy and began reading the final book in the Shadow Children series, Among the Free. Luke is once more the main character in the book who unknowingly and unwittingly makes a decision that sets a massive chain of events into motion. He becomes a catalyst for a change but as with the previous series (The Tripods), it is up to the reader to interpret whether or not the ending is happy.

I posted the link to Ms. Allen’s Weebly page but I am also including it below as well. Please bookmark it so you can follow what Ms. Allen is doing in social studies.

http://allentd.weebly.com/

The morning work is posted below. We are continuing with fractions but I am inserting some probability (Singular) since that involves fractions. Maybe towards the end of the year, when all else has been mastered, I can do compound probability like what is covered in 6th grade.

We continued with idioms and speech expressions. The idioms/expressions of figurative language that we did today are: “On cloud nine”, “Driving someone up a wall”, and “Fishing tackle.”

We also continued working on the choice menu options. As I mentioned yesterday, students will choose two and have until Friday to complete them. I am working on a rubric used to grade them and will post it when it is ready.

In math, I decided to change my mind this morning. I had originally intended to continue with fractions, and I did for a part of the class to review, but decided to do a graphing exercise instead.

First, the fractions: I have created a full color fraction strip chart that can be printed and cut out. This will aid in comparing fractions, reducing, etc. I am also posting the black and white version both below and on the Math Helps page (link).

The graphing activity is posted below for downloading. The students, while all have the same chart of data, have three options for the assignment.

After specials, my class switched with Ms. Allen’s for science and social studies.

With science, we began studying Earth and space science. We started out with reviewing the solar system, its bodies, the sun and its gravitational pull, why the Earth experiences seasons, and why gravity with centripetal force keeps everything in place, including water.

I showed them a website that shows the realistic orbits of all of the planets in our solar system in relation to each other.

http://dd.dynamicdiagrams.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/orrery_2006.swf

With that, we did two experiments/demonstrations. The first one involved a student holding a globe and another holding up a spotlight. The spotlight represents the sun and the one holding the globe held walked around the “sun” to demonstrate its orbit.

The graphic below shows why the seasons are reversed. In July, the northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight resulting in summer while the southern hemisphere receives less, resulting in winter. In January, it is the opposite.

The second demonstration was concerning gravity and centripetal force. Centripetal force is the force that causes an object to push inward. In astronomy, in our case, gravity supplies the centripetal force. This is the reason why everything stays on the Earth and why objects fall. It is also the reason why the ocean stays where it is at.

This leads to the demonstration. I used a device called the Spill-not®. I placed a plastic cup of water in my hands and asked the class what would happen if I moved it around. The answer, of course, is that it will slosh around and possibly spill out if enough force is used.

I then placed it on the Spill-not® and spun it around. By action of centripetal force, the cup (and the water!) remained in place even when upside down.

The animation below shows how gravity keeps one down on the ground.

The class then was essentially over after Chess Club and Science Olympiad were called.

Tomorrow the focus will be on the moon.

Monday, February 03, 2014The first day of school in the month of February! I have no idea about whether or not we do Valentine’s Day parties or not. I suppose it would be fine to have your child bring in goodies that are store-bought and wrapped along with Valentine’s Day cards. I will be sending home a list of the class roster as we get closer to that day. I really don’t feel comfortable putting your child’s name on my wiki since anyone with internet access can view my page.

I also would like to thank everyone who signed up for the text alert feature. I want to assure you that it will only be for school-related information and not commentary on sports, etc. Please sign up if you haven’t already done so at the top of this page.

Today we began like we normally did. The students came in and were greeted by this morning’s math warm-up activity. I did try an experiment and it appears to have been a success. I put the assignment on Socratic.com and had a student enter his/her answers. So, if you wish to check out Socratic, just go to www.socratic.comand click the student login at the top of the page. My room number is 514034.

The class also finished up their two posters that they were working on for a while. The large one was a group effort where they were given a poetic device and created an informational piece on it. The second one was also about a particular poetic device but this one was student-chosen. The student created a poem using that device and wrote it/illustrated it on a sheet of 3D paper. This will be put up on my large bulletin board in the hallway.

We also continued reading aloud Among the Enemy. We are about halfway through this book and I am confident that we will either finish this book and/or begin the last one (Among the Free) by the end of this week. I have not completely decided upon which book, nor which genre to explore afterwards but I know that I will have to figure it out quick. My class loves the read-alouds!!!!

We also went over three more idioms today. They are: "Barrel of laughs", "Bull in a china closet", and "Curiosity killed the cat."

I introduced a new initiative in my literacy block. The students are given a choice board which consists of nine options for assignments. They are to choose two of them and have them completed by the end of the week. Below is a copy of the choice board from today’s Smart Board notebook:

On the Smart Board

..........and this page comes up:

They just need to make sure that they tap the Return box at the bottom to return to the menu.

In math, we reviewed reducing fractions and then the students were given an assignment in their respective Singapore Math books. Tomorrow, we will continue with fractions and though I would like to go over adding with like denominators, I think it is best to cover improper and mixed numbers first followed by conversions from one to the other. For example, if I add 3/4

and 3/4 , the sum will be 6/4. Since that is an improper fraction (and a Fraction Faux-Pas – big no-no) it needs to be expressed as 1 2/4 which reduces to 1 1/2. I think it would be best to spend some time on that first before adding and subtracting.

I am posting the graphic below on my Math Help page for downloading.

Tomorrow, the class will go to Ms. Allen’s for social studies. Since we lost two days last week, I am going to squeeze in some science with my class as well.

Lastly, my mobile app has been updated and I will continue to work on it.

Friday, January 31, 2014Another weird week comes to pass as we finally have a normal day of school . Two days of being out really made today seem like a Monday since I was asking students if they were car riders going home.

Regardless, it was nice to be back. We had the warm-up as shown below. Plus, we did three idioms with the literal pictures.

The first idiom was, "Apple of my eye."

The second one was, "Brainstorm."

The last one was "Bank holdup."

Then we did the spelling test, which was interrupted by the new specials schedule on Fridays

(10:10-10:55). Afterwards, I had them use the tablets and computers to do a brief figurative language quiz on www.classmarker.com. I have used this website before when I taught at the middle school and posted all of my tests online. It has been, by far, the best and most reliable one. So, I am going to be using it from now on. I will be posting homework or other assignments on that so when I do, each parent will be given their child's unique log-in.

We also used the Socratic app/website today. This time it was much more successful. If you are able to, please allow your child to download the Socractic App on either the Appstore or Google Play.

Socratic is what we did in math today and it was a lot of fun reviewing and having student responses posted in real time on my iPad.

Lastly, I am sure you have noticed that there is a new form at the top of this page. Please fill it out since this will enable me to send you text updates. I will only be using this like my Twitter account in which only important and relevant information will be posted. I already have three parents who have signed up so far. Thank you very much! I will be sending out a test message later on today to try it out.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014School is dismissing two hours early due to inclement weather.

We did continue reading aloud as well as doing the warm-up. The class also started a mini-project in class where they chose a favorite poetic device (simile, metaphor, etc.) and wrote a poem using the device. Each student was given 3D paper to do this on and will be worked on tomorrow as well.

We also went over three idioms in our continued study of figurative language:

"A friend you can count on...."

"Close, but no cigar....."

"Making your bed...."

I have also made a mini-lesson on reducing fractions. You can find it here.

Monday, January 27, 2014Today was different in the sense that we began something new across the school called Hive Time. It is a designated block of 45 minutes where the students are placed in smaller groups to work on math and reading. This week and next week are for math and we will be switching off every two weeks. Hive time will be on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays after today.

The students had a shorter warm-up in the sense that there were only three questions and all of them were more open-ended.

We also continued with the second-to-last book in the Shadow Children series, Among the Enemy.

We did go over idioms and the one I did today was, "Dressed to Kill" which means to wear one's best clothes.

In math, we are still focusing on reducing fractions. Tomorrow we are going to do only Singapore Math. I also assigned a project in math called 3D Fractions. The initial guidelines are listed below.

## Math Project - 3D Fractions

## What you are going to do is choose a fraction that is not in lowest form.

## Then you are going to make a model of that fraction and another model of that fraction in lowest form (reduced). Thirdly, you need to explain step-by-step how you reduced your fraction.

## Example: a student chooses the fraction 5/15 and makes a model of it by having five red cups and ten blue cups (because 5+10=15). Then, the student shows 5/15 as 1/3 by having 1 red cup and two blue cups.

## You are free to model/represent it any way you like as long as your models are correct and your explanation makes sense.

Below is an example that I did:

The project is due on Monday, March 3rd. As I mentioned in the email to all parents, I want to give plenty of time to work on it as well as to answer any questions.

I am working on the rubric that I will use to grade the project and will be sending it as soon as it is ready.

Friday, January 24, 2014Another two-hour delay greeted us but I suppose that wasn't a bad thing considering how cold it was this morning. I know how much I used to laugh at our region's response to cold and snow but since I have lived here for the majority of my life now (since August 3st, 1988) I understand.

I did some reading aloud and finished Among the Brave. We will begin Among the Enemy, which is the second-to-last book in the series on Monday.

I did assign the math homework and hopefully all of you received the email. Please let me know if you cannot print it and I will make sure your child has a hard copy on Monday.

Lastly, clubs began today. I am not doing Techno-Bees this time around since I was asked to take over Ms. Gerst's coaching role for Science Olympiad.

Thursday, January 23, 2014I had to leave early due to illness.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014The students returned from a four-day weekend to find the room in a different arrangement.

As I mentioned in the email to all parents sent yesterday, I wanted to make a few changes as we start the second half of the year. Hopefully, this new arrangement will alleviate some of the distractions that were occurring beforehand.

The morning work was more fraction-based again but with a few added twists to make it more interesting rather than the same, usual kind of stuff.

In literacy, we continued reading aloud from Among the Brave in which the main character of this book was a minor character in the previous books. But, the author has shown that she likes to mix things up and tell parts of the story from different perspectives.

After the read aloud, we continued going over idioms with “I’ve got your back” and “Raining cats and dogs.” The students shared what the literal and figurative meanings of each idiom meant and then were shown a literal picture.

Next, I went over different types of figurative language/poetic devices that were the most common:

– a comparison using “like” or “as”; “Like water off of a duck’s back.”Simile– a direct comparison; “I am a rock. I am an island.” (Simon and Garfunckle)Metaphor– assigning human-like characteristics to nonhuman objects; “The wind yelled in a rage trying to blow down the house.”Personification– an exaggeration; “I told you ten thousand times to clean up your room!!!!”Hyperbole– the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables; “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”Alliteration- words that imitate sounds; "boom!"OnomatopoeiaThe class then did a brief in-class assignment on figurative language.

Afterwards, we did not rotate like normal. First, this is a short week and second, they were given time to finish up any missing/incomplete/incorrectly done assignments from Ms. Allen’s social studies class since the grades need to be in.

In math, we continued with reducing fractions using greatest common factor as well as went over the math assessment that was given out on Friday. The assessment was not for a grade but merely to see where we are and where we need to go. I can still see a lot of need for reviewing the geometry part of it as well as problem solving.

In science, I kept my class this week and began the Earth and space science unit. I showed them a 20-minute video on the solar system and then they did an in-class quiz based on the video. We also had a brief discussion of gravity and how it keeps the planets in their respective orbits.

Friday, January 17, 2014This will be very short since I was in all day planning - planning out next quarter's focus of study. I will say that I am very excited about what is coming up, especially in science where the focus moves to Earth in the Universe (astronomy and geology).

Since:

A) I was in planning all day long and had to prepare for having a sub and;

B) Next week is a short week:

There will be no assigned spelling words nor math homework. BUT, don't be surprised if I assign homework on Wednesday or Thursday.

Also, the club sign-up sheet was given to your child. I am not doing Techno-Bees this time around since I was asked to help out with Science Olympiad. That is something I am very excited about. I know.....Mr. Miller doing something associated with science.....who would have thought?

Lastly, each girl in the class was given a yellow Girls On the Run sign-up form.

Thursday, January 16, 2014Today was much closer to normal. The only thing different was that they had to go to a different room for specials (media) since the media center has all of the science fair projects on display. The science fair parent night is tonight from 6:00-8:30. I will not be able to attend but I made sure every student has a certificate in front of their projects. I should add, WONDERFUL projects!

Tomorrow, I will not be "here" in the sense that it is the third grade teachers full day planning. However, I will still have plenty of work for the students.

The students also did a little better on the warm-up this morning as well as reducing fractions. That is a good sign. At least they won't have to worry about fractions as much tomorrow. Tomorrow, the third grade will be administering a math assessment (3rd Grade Benchmark January).

We also finished reading aloud Among the Barons and dove right in to Among the Brave. In this book, the main character changes.

We also continued going over idioms with Pulling My Leg and Surfing the Web:

Afterwards, we watched an old cartoon from 1951 called Symphony in Slang. In this cartoon, the character has gone to Heaven and St. Peter couldn't understand what he was saying due to his slang words,( "What's cookin'?", etc.). He then brings the character to Noah Webster where the character tells his life story using slang. Mr. Webster listens and visualizes it literally. The students chose one of the idioms/slang expressions and explained its meaning and then wrote a summary of the cartoon. Below is the cartoon.....

In math, we continued with reducing fractions using greatest common factor. What I am seeing in those who are still iffy on it is comprised of either or both of two things: 1) Not knowing the multiplication facts completely; 2) Forgetting a part of a procedure. Both of these are minor and I am confident that they are correctable.

In science, we did day three of heat/energy transfer and graphing. This time, I had four containers of water:

1) Boiling

2) Hot (≈120°) - I know the label is 100° but I decided to make it a little hotter.

3) Room temperature

4) Cold (sitting in a refrigerator all day)

I also took four small plastic drinking cups and filled them with water before placing them in the freezer all day long. This time I just measured temperature in Fahrenheit.

We again took a temperature reading of all four water containers and recorded them. Next, I added a block of ice to each one. The ice would then sit in the water for 30 minutes (2:05-2:35). During this time, I went over constructing a triple bar graph.

After 30 minutes, I took another two temperature readings from each container. The first was the water temperature after 30 minutes and the second one involved a small electric mixer. Interestingly enough, the temperature of the water rose roughly one degree. This was due to the water being agitated and in motion. This motion of the water was due to an increase in energy which slightly raised the temperature.

After the final data was recorded, we made our triple bar graphs. Again, using the Smart Board is difficult so it isn't as attractive as I would have liked.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014Today we had a shortened literacy class due to the science fair judging. My class and Ms. Allen’s class went to the media center. Each student stood by his/her project and was prepared to answer any questions from the judges.

We did, however, still have a warm-up.

I have also begun assigning the next project which is a book report. This one will be more multimedia-based and more information will be given soon.

In math, we continued with fractions and reducing them to their lowest form using greatest common factor. There is still a lot of confusion on it so this is a skill that we will be focusing on as well as using Singapore Math to review.

After math, we had science. Today’s science was a continuation of yesterday’s focus on heat/energy transfer. This time, we collected data on two different items. The first one was a cold beaker of water and another one had heated water. Both beakers were filled to 900ml of water.

The task at hand was to predict and then record which beaker (hot or cold) would experience the sharpest drop in temperature after having an ice sphere introduced. Again, the water was measured using probes from a digital thermometer.

Afterwards, the data would be plotted on a line graph but this time using two lines of data. In addition, we will be using Celsius as a measurement instead of Fahrenheit. This makes it easier to plot on a graph as well as becoming more familiar with the unit of measurement for temperature that the rest of the world uses.

Below is what I wrote on the Smart Board. Since I am limited by how imprecise it is, I was at a disadvantage.

Below is how the graph looks when using Excel:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014Today the science fair projects are due. It is all over so now the kids can breathe easier until I give them something else. The judging of the projects will be tomorrow morning so my fingers are crossed!

I have to say that I am very impressed by what I have seen of the projects that were turned in. I was not expecting this high quality from third graders who are doing this for the first time. I told the class that they will have a tough time next year outdoing themselves. Good job!!!

The class did a good job on today’s warm up.

In literacy, I went over idioms which are slang expressions that use figurative language. I gave them two examples: happy camper and letting the cat out of the bag.

The class first explained that a happy camper is an expression for being happy and content. I then showed them an illustration of the literal meaning:

Next, we did the expression Letting the Cat Out of the Bag which means to reveal a secret.

The activity following this was to choose two things:

1) A sheet of colored paper

2) An idiom

The students then wrote their idiom on the paper with a brief description of its figurative meaning. Then, they drew a picture of what it would literally be like.

Math was short today due to our assigned time of 1:10 to set up at the science fair. Each student was assigned a number and had to cover any name.

In science, we did the first experiment from last week that I had conducted with Ms. Allen’s class.

This is what we did. I filled two silicone ice molds that I purchased from Thinkgeek that makes ice in the shape of

Anyway, I also had a beaker with boiling water. I took a temperature reading of the water and had the students record it. I then placed the ice inside the beaker with hot water. Every five minutes, we would take the water’s temperature and record it.

While the water was cooling, I went over with the class the different types of graphs and their uses.

For the circle graph, which shows parts to a whole out of a total number, I surveyed the class on their favorite color.

For the bar graph, which compares data but doesn’t need a total, I randomly generated numbers for a fictional science test among a set of students.

For the line graph, which is for changes over time, I had a fictional series of weekly science tests for a made up student.

I created a spreadsheet using Excel and the Randbetween function to generate random numbers and then graph them. I did this with different types of graphs. Since line graphs measure changes over time, it was determined that this type of graph was to be used for the activity.

At the sixth temperature reading, we stopped and made a line graph of the data.

We will also be doing another experiment along the same lines simultaneously tomorrow too with colder water and ice.

Monday, January 13, 2014We begin a new week and a full week with no foreseeable issues with the weather. That is a relief to get back into a routine!

The students came in to a warm-up that they showed mastery of. So, tomorrow’s will continue to be fraction-based but perhaps a little more challenging.

We began with going over figurative vs. literal language with the students noting any non-literal words and sayings from the read-aloud. They then wrote down one on a Post-It Note and stuck it to an anchor chart.

I also managed to finish Among the Betrayed and started Among the Barons. In this book, Luke returns as the main character who has finally gotten comfortable being at Hendricks School for Boys. He was happy until his "younger brother" becomes a student there. This student, Smits, is the younger brother of the deceased boy whose identity Luke had assumed when he came out of hiding. Awkward is truly an understatement when both boys have to pretend to be brothers. In Luke's case, his life truly depends on the ruse being successful.

We also worked on poetry for writing.

In math, I went over Greatest Common Factor.

The students did an awesome job with it so tomorrow I will focus on using it to reduce fractions to their lowest form (lowest common denominator).

Lastly, the science fair projects are due tomorrow.

Friday, January 10, 2014This entry will be shorter than the previous two since there isn’t as much to write about. The class had the warm-up and I feel that they did a better job of it today.

In literacy, I continued with reading aloud Among the Betrayed and are now getting towards the end of that book as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if one week from now I am writing about getting close to finishing the next book, Among the Barons. I suppose I had better start looking into another series down the road.

The class also got to spend some good time doing independent reading as well as taking the spelling test. To be truthful, I was surprised by how well the class did overall on the spelling test considering that the words were given out three weeks ago.

In math, we did fractions and estimating where they would fall on a number line. I think this one was a bit too much so I am going to slow down next week and focus on greatest common factor and then reducing fractions. This will also help them see the relationship between fractions that are equivalent.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class had a quiz on heat/energy transfer as well as taking the information from their graphs and using it to answer a few questions. There were other questions on energy and the last one involved taking information and creating a graph. I would estimate that about half of the class was not finished so Ms. Allen agreed to make time on Monday for them to finish it up.

Lastly, the science fair projects are due on Tuesday. We are not expecting perfection nor slick presentations. As long as the students made an honest effort, they will be fine. Then, at last it will all be over (and I get to remove the countdown widget from my wiki page too).

Thursday, January 9, 2014Today was strange in the sense that it was a normal day with a normal schedule. Though I was getting used to the two-hour delay (and enjoying it!), I am glad to be back in the routine.

Tomorrow is the spelling test and the math homework is due.

The students had a warm-up but struggled with it. I decided to not make it count as a grade since it was very challenging considering how I did not really go over equivalent fractions as much.

I know that they are doing well with comparing fractions according to value by using division, but I still feel that they need some more reminders on specifics. It isn’t that they don’t understand the division part, it is that a lot of students are getting the order of division mixed up. To convert the fraction into a decimal, one divides the numerator by the denominator. This is very counterintuitive since they are dividing a small number by a larger number resulting in a decimal that is less than one. A lot of students do it the other way around and that is where tomorrow’s focus will be.

In reading, I finished the book Among the Imposters and began reading Among the Betrayed. In this book, the main character shifts from Luke to a girl named “Nina” (her assumed name shown on her fake ID). She was introduced in the previous book and is too an illegal third child who was betrayed and arrested by the Population Police.

In the Population Police jail, she was interrogated and treated harshly and was given a choice: befriend and betray three other illegal third children who have been arrested or be executed. Neither choice is good and in fact is a terrible dilemma.

In math, as I mentioned above, we continued with comparing fractions.

In science, Ms. Allen’s class did the follow-up activity plus two more. I began the class with an experiment using my brand new science toy: a magnetic stirrer. It had arrived by Fedex literally an hour and a half prior to science class (during lunch) so I decided that it would be a good warm-up.

A magnetic stirrer is used in labs for mixing fluids and instead of using a stir rod, there is a magnet at the bottom of the container that spins causing a vortex to form and stirring the liquids into a solution. I showed two different kinds: one that is pill-shaped measuring about 1 ¼ inches. The other one is wider with eight blades on it.

The students hypothesized which one would create the biggest vortex. Almost all of them chose the eight-bladed flat one and they were right.

The next experiment involved having two 1000ml beakers filled with 1000ml of water. One beaker was refrigerated while the other’s water was at room temperature. I again placed digital thermometer probes into the water along with a Death Star-shaped ice ball. Which one would melt the ice the fastest? We hypothesized and left nature to its course.

The last phase of the class was to take the data from yesterday and create a line graph, since that is best suited for measuring changes over time. I went over the best way to construct a line graph, and let the students complete their work. When their graphs were finished, they needed to write an explanation about how this experimented on the transfer of heat energy. Below is what they graph should look like.

Lastly, tomorrow all CMS students and staff are encouraged to wear Panther pride gear tomorrow to support an organization that has done so much for CMS. Go Panthers!!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014Two days in a row where school is on a two hour delay is something that I have never experienced in all of my years of teaching, especially in CMS. To delay the opening of school in a system as large as ours is a very rare occurrence. In years past, it was always easier to simply cancel school for the day. But, the good news is that delayed days don’t have to be made up. The bad news is that I can REALLY get used to sleeping later. Oh well.

Since this was a shorter day, the math assessment was not administered since it was supposed to start at 9:30.

But, despite the delayed opening and shortened day, the students came in to another warm-up that is more focused on fractions. Tomorrow, we will continue with Singapore Math and fractions. It will be more of a half Singapore Math and half fractions type of day.

After the warm-up, I read aloud from Among the Imposters where things get weirder and weirder. These books, as I have mentioned earlier, are very quick reads, so we are zipping right along. After the read-aloud, I had the students do their own independent reading until we had indoor recess again.

Despite the temperature being warmer than yesterday, I felt that staying inside was the best course of action. Of course, the students LOVED it since they were able to use their tech devices (or mine).

After lunch, which was again pushed back 30 minutes, we had math. Today’s focus in math was using their knowledge of place value, decimals, and division to determine which fraction was greater. For example, if you have the fractions ⅜ and ½ and need to figure out which one is greater, one method is to use division.

That was part of yesterday’s lesson in math. We went over the numerator and denominator and I showed the class that the fraction bar really means to divide. ¾ is really 3÷4 which is 0.75. It is true because 3 equal parts out of 4 is less than one.

Getting back to the example: you divide 3 by 8 to get 0.375 and divide 1 by 2 to get 0.5. By using knowledge of place value, you line up the decimals to compare…….

0.375

0.5

The number in the one’s place (0) is the same, so we move to the right and go past the decimal to the tenths place. Five is definitely greater than three so it holds true that ½ is greater than ⅜ (½>⅜).

The class then had an assignment doing just what I showed above. This was an activity where they can self-check under the black light with the answers written in invisible ink.

After math, our classes switched. Ms. Allen’s class came to me for science where I am finishing up on energy and basically physics too. I need to start getting into earth and space science (YES!!!!!) but I wanted to do one last activity.

Anyway, I also had a beaker with boiling water. I took a temperature reading of the water and had the students record it. I then placed the ice inside the beaker with hot water. Every five minutes, we would take the water’s temperature and record it.

While the water was cooling, I went over with the class the different types of graphs and their uses.

For the circle graph, which shows parts to a whole out of a total number, I surveyed the class on their favorite color.

For the bar graph, which compares data but doesn’t need a total, I randomly generated numbers for a fictional science test among a set of students.

For the line graph, which is for changes over time, I had a fictional series of weekly science tests for a made up student.

I created a spreadsheet using Excel and the Randbetween function to generate random numbers and then graph them. I did this with different types of graphs. Since line graphs measure changes over time, it was determined that this type of graph was to be used for the activity.

By the time we took the fourth temperature measurement, class was over. So we are going to continue this tomorrow by taking the recorded data and constructing a line graph along with going over HOW to construct one.

We will also be doing another experiment along the same lines simultaneously tomorrow too with colder water and ice.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014Due to the two-hour delay, things were definitely not normal today. It was weird, like a teacher workday when the morning bell rings but no kids come, yet they eventually did. Strange. So, they came in to a warm-up that involves a little review with a few fraction-based questions to get them acclimated to fractions since that is what we are covering now.

I continued reading aloud Among the Imposters for a long time and then had the students do indoor recess with either their own devices or one of mine. Thanks to the donation of two more laptops, that makes internet access available to even more students. Thanks so much!!!

Due to the delayed start to the day, everyone’s lunch schedule was moved up 30 minutes. After lunch, we had about 20 minutes of math allowing the students to finish up their morning work and then go over it. After the brief math period, the class went to specials (science lab). Upon returning to class, we did more math with an introduction to fractions.

Today’s fraction lesson was covering the basics such as the numerator and denominator, what fractions are (an equal PART of a whole – equal being the key), and what the fraction bar means (divide – it is the numerator divided by the denominator; the top number divided by the bottom number. It will be less than one, of course, but that is what a fraction is. ½ is 1 ÷ 2, which is 0.5).

The students were then given an in-class activity that was two pages in length.

Despite the seemingly lengthiness of the activity, it wasn’t that difficult or daunting since it was identifying which fraction was true. For example, which fraction below represents 3/10 ?

Groups one and two are split up ten ways while group three is split up nine ways. That eliminates group 3. While both groups 1 and 2 have three out of ten, only group 1 has ten EQUAL groupings. This makes group 1 the only correct answer.

Tomorrow will not be a normal day either. Though the low temperature is forecast to be bitterly cold like this morning, we have not yet received any word on whether this will result in a delay or not. If there is no delay, the third grade will be taking a math assessment that will be scanned just like the EOG at the end of the year. It will consist of about 35-36 questions on material that has already been covered to give us a good idea of where they are.

Of course, everything is subject to change so we shall see.

Monday, January 6, 2014Happy New Year! I hope your two weeks was relaxing and refreshing. Mine was a paradox of time flying yet standing still. It is difficult to explain it, I suppose. On one hand, the days were zipping by one-by-one in decorating, buying both food and gifts, decorating, etc. On the other hand, it seemed as if I have been away for a month.

Regardless of one’s perception of time’s passage, school has begun anew in the sense that it is like the first day again. Though the students did return to having a warm-up assignment, I still devoted some time to review the expectations and procedures. It never hurts to go over the mundane.

Before reviewing what we did today for our first day back, I wanted to let you know that I added a new feature to this section of the wiki page. I have a comment section below from Disqus, just like a lot of newspapers, higher quality blogs, magazines, etc. You are encouraged to leave comments since this will help make my wiki page more interactive.

In literacy, we began reading the second book of the Shadow Children series, Among the Imposters. The main character is Luke, an illegal third child (a “shadow”) has come out of hiding with the assistance of his neighbor. His neighbor, the father of his now-deceased friend, has managed to get him an ID of a boy who has recently passed away, allowing Luke to assume this identity. He is also going to live in a boys’ boarding school under this assumed name.

We also continued with the rotations and independent reading.

I have also received the January issue of Scholastic Storyworks. Each student is given a copy which they will be responsible for. This subscription gives teachers access to printable activities that correlate with each issue’s content.

In math, we continued with averaging for today. I didn’t want to introduce any new content and decided that averaging was a good topic since it incorporates adding, division, and rounding.

After a brief review, the class had an in-class averaging activity consisting of twenty sets of numbers that needed to be averaged. The only stipulation was that the average had to be rounded to the nearest hundredth in the event of a decimal quotient.

Reminders: the spelling words and homework that were sent out on Friday, December 20th are due this Friday. The science fair projects are due the 14th so there is still time to work on it.

Friday, December 20, 2013Thursday, December 19, 2013Wednesday, December 18, 2013This is going to be the last post until we return in January. We will still be doing the warm up assignments on the board and I will be posting them but that will be about it.

Also, the class party is Friday at 2:30. If you would like to bring stuff in that would be great!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013I am sorry that there was no post yesterday but our grade level meeting took the entire time. Of course, this being the week before the winter break there really isn't much to discuss or write about.

The students still are doing the math warm-ups each morning and will do so tomorrow along with Thursday and Friday.

Of I have also been reading aloud These Happy Golden Years and getting very close to the end. It is possible that tomorrow (or even today) that I will finish it. At this point in the story, Laura is 18 years old and is officially engaged to Almanzo. She has finished teaching her third school and will no longer return to being a student. Almanzo is building their future house on his tree claim while Laura and her mother are busily sewing away to make sure she has enough clothing, bedding, etc. to begin her life away from home. However, despite their planning to be married in the autumn there is a surprise in store and the students will find out this afternoon when they return (I am writing this while they are in specials).

Update: I have finished These Happy Golden Years. I still have no plans on reading The First Four Years. I will begin reading Among the Hidden tomorrow and thus will begin the Shadow Children series. This is definitely a departure from the historical fiction/biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and go into a fictional distopian world of the near future.

On Friday morning, I am planning on showing them the Little House on the Prairie pilot movie from 1974 in which they can compare and contrast it with the actual books.

In math, we continued with both Singapore Math and averaging. Tomorrow I am going to teach them range, median, and mode and that will be the last of any math instruction until we return.

In science, I am showing them an interesting video from a project called Symphony of Science. This is a very creative effort in which the speeches and other talks from scientists are set to music. I am showing them my favorite one called, The Case For Mars featuring the late Dr. Carl Sagan. It is creative but kind of weird too.

[ invalid file: Symphony of Science - 'The Case for Mars' (ft. Zubrin, Sagan, Cox & Boston) - YouTube [240p].flv ]

Friday, December 13, 2013Today was another open house and we had two different visitors. Hopefully, we made a good impression on them and that they enjoyed their visit.

We also read more of These Happy Golden Years and are definitely on track to finishing the book sometime next week. My hope, as I mentioned yesterday, is to have them watch the actually movie/pilot and note the similarities and differences.

They also had a nice warm-up activity that lasted into the actual math class.

The class did the rotations in addition to the spelling test. As usual, almost all of them did very wellon the test. There are no spelling words for next week since that is the week before the two-week break over the holidays.

With that in mind, I am also not assigning homework for next week. We did an averaging activity and the students went online to review division, at least the ones whose tech devices supported Flash files. That is very frustrating but at least there were far fewer issues involved with getting online this time.

But before the tech activity, I did a demonstration of average and how it really works with a real application. I took five empty 100ml graduated cylinders and filled them with the following capacities: 60, 10, 40, 20, and 80 ml. I then added a drop of red food coloring to each cylinder to make it easier to see.

Next, I explained that average is taking the differing amounts and combining them into a common place.

Third, averaging is taking that combined amount and distributing it equally among the group, sort of like mathematical socialism if you think about it. But, the formula is to take add up the set and divide by the number in the group. In this case, there are five different cylinders in the group so the number is divided by five to get the average of 42 ml.

Lastly, some of the graded papers as well as the progress reports were sent home with your child. You need not sign nor return them but as always, please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Thursday, December 12, 2013Reminder1: spelling test tomorrowReminder2: tech time tomorrowWe began reading These Happy Golden Years today. When we first met Laura, she was a five year old living in the woods of Wisconsin. Now, she is a fifteen year old and beginning to teach school. It is a difficult transition for her. On Friday, she was a student and on Monday she is the teacher of a school of five. She has never before been away from home and how she must live twelve miles away. To make matters worse, the wife of the family she lives with is sullen and very quarrelsome. But, to save her from her misery Almanzo Wilder comes and takes her home over the weekend.

Next week in literacy I will be doing figurative and literal language with idioms. This unit of study has always been a lot of fun and very educational at the same time. I am looking forward to doing it but also in doing it in January when we return.

Today I also finished DIBELS so there in itself is a reason to be thankful since that is over with for a few months. Tomorrow we will be doing our spelling test but I am not assigning any spelling words for next week. The last week of school before the winter break will otherwise go on as normally as possible but with a bit more reading aloud. My goal is to finish These Happy Golden Years by Thursday and have the class watch the original Little House on the Prairie movie from 1974 to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the movie and the book(s).

When we return in January, I will begin reading aloud Among the Hidden.

In math, I continued with average/mean since it involves adding and dividing. I also assigned more pages in the Singapore Math books. The homework for next week will be doing assigned pages in the Singapore Math books as well.

Lastly, the Power School issue has been resolved and papers will be going home tomorrow.

This is a copy of the text from the email:

From:PowerSchoolHelpDeskSent:Thursday, December 12, 2013 8:44 AMTo:Elementary Data Managers List; Middle School Data Managers; High School Data Managers; Student Systems;DL757STUDENTAPPS@cmslistserv.cms.k12.nc.usSubject:PowerTeacher Grade Book IssuePLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO ALL STAFF. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.

PowerTeacher Gradebook is back up and running. Please note that the blue arrow has returned to the right of the word Gradebook in the Navigation pane. It appears that we will no longer have to use the CMS work around.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013Friday is going to be a Tech DayI am down to one more loose end to tie up for DIBELS and that will be all! I am glad to get that over with since it takes up a lot of time. In all though, I am pleased to see a LOT of growth in my students.

Today we are also finishing up Little Town on the Prairie and tomorrow we will begin the last full novel of the series, These Happy Golden Years. Though a lot goes on with this book, it does make me sad to be finishing it up. Students are more than welcome to read The First Four Years if they want to as well as the other books that are not written by Laura (The Caroline Years, the Rose Years, etc.).

The students also did the warm-up activity and did a pretty decent job on it. I think the issue now is just reading the text in the word problems carefully to determine which operation is needed vs. actually not being able to solve the problem.

In math, we continued with Singapore Math by working in the respective books. The students also took a five minute timed multiplication facts quiz that was not graded. I am not planning on grading them. They are just practice so the students can see for themselves which facts they are lacking in, such as the "12's" for example.

Tomorrow, I will be continuing to reinforce material that has been covered just to keep it fresh. They will also continue working in the Singapore Math books too. I want to make sure that everything up to this point has been mastered well enough for us to move into the fraction unit. But, before doing fractions I would like to build a foundation of knowledge in the basics such as factors, greatest common factor, multiples, and least common multiple. This too will require them to know their multiplication facts so I am going to be giving them the timed facts quizzes much more frequently.

I am also still waiting on the Power School issue to be resolved. Below is the text of the email that all of us have received.

From:PowerSchoolHelpDeskSent:Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:20 AMTo:Elementary Data Managers List; Middle School Data Managers; High School Data ManagersSubject:PowerTeacher Grade book IssuePLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO ALL STAFF. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.

We are still experiencing an issue logging in to the PowerTeacher Grade book. This issue has been reported to the state and we will update you as soon as we have a resolution. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013I have been DIBELing away and I am now thinking that tomorrow will be the last day baring something unexpected. I only have a few more students and a couple of students who need to make up something that was administered last week. Then, that is it until the final one. I am THINKING that it is March or April and not February (or May!). We shall see.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Little Town on the Prairie. As I mentioned earlier, this is my favorite book in the entire serious though all of them are wonderful in their own way. Almanzo Wilder is now a full-fledged main character and his sister Eliza Jane is back and Laura's old nemesis Nellie Olson. Eliza Jane is the teacher, Nellie is the teacher's pet, and the drama is on! It just keeps getting interesting.

We also continued with the rotations and as I mentioned above, I am hoping that tomorrow is the final day of DIBELS. I know that its deadline is Friday but I want it behind us so we can focus on our routine.

In math, I introduced average/mean for the warm-up activity. The reason being is that I felt it was a good approach to reinforce reading skills, following directions, and applying what they already should know (adding and dividing).

I then passed out the Singapore Math books to each student and gave both groups a brief activity. Singapore Math books will be used as supplements to what I am doing since it does math in a slightly different way than me (and being exposed to that is a good thing) and it serves as a good practice too. It will sometimes be used as homework and sometimes for morning work. I do plan on going through the first book briskly.

I still could not access PowerSchool's gradebook but I will definitely notify you with an email blast once this issue is resolved.

Monday, December 9, 2013Today we did the warm up and I think that I need to do a better job of explaining exactly how the students are supposed to connect the points on the grid in order to figure out the area. That will be done tomorrow.

We also continued reading aloud Little Town on the Prairie as well as continued doing the rotations. They did get some good independent reading time in while I continued with DIBELS. I am about half-way through and I am going to go all-out tomorrow and Wednesday to finish them up so that can be over and done with until March or April. I am hoping it is March since April is going to be a sort-of crunch time in getting prepared for the tests at the end of the year.

In math, I had the students correct their tests but before I did that, I did review a few concepts to make sure that everyone understood what is asked. The Singapore Math books are ready to go out tomorrow and half of the class will be devoted to doing that. Since a lot of the concepts in the books have already been covered (numeration, multiplication, etc), I plan on going through them at a brisk pace until we get to division, fractions, and decimals.

Lastly, I am not able to send out the progress reports home today. Powerschool's grade book is down and I have not been able to access it all day. We did receive an email stating that the state has been notified so hopefully (HOPEFULLY) that will be corrected as soon as humanly (and technologically) possible.

Friday, December 6, 2013Happy Friday! Today, we finished The Long Book - I mean, The Long Winter. It is always difficult to get through but at last it was finished. I was able to start my FAVORITE book of the series, Little Town on the Prairie. It is the second-to-last book and there is a lot that goes on.

While I did give out the morning work, I don't feel that I did a good enough job explaining the first problem so I didn't count it.

We also continued with context clues. I did an interactive read aloud finishing up the Long Winter by writing a sample sentence from the text. Students were each given a Post-It Note and wrote the context clues for the word clamoring and what its meaning is based on the clues.

We also did the spelling test. Due to the time, I did

not have the time to copy down the new spelling words so each student was given a printed copy. We then did the rotations.

In math, I administered the math test, collected the math homework, and gave out next week's homework.

Also, I sent home some papers. One of them is the Beginning-of-Year test results. Please remember that this is a measure, a snapshot, of how your child did in September. However, I am going to have to really work hard to show growth for a lot of students.

I am also sending home progress reports on Monday along with graded work.

Lastly, I am continuing to upgrade my wiki page with new features as they become available. Please let me know what you think and/of have any suggestions. And, please be sure to keep checking the Math Help page for more mini-lessons as they become available.

Thursday, December 05, 2013Note: the spelling and math tests are tomorrow and the math homework is due.

I also added my Twitter feeds to the home page.

Today we continued with both the rotations and reading aloud The Long Winter. Today's warm-up activity consisted of two problems but they were different in the sense that they required reading skills as well as following instructions. Instead of merely dividing up an irregular figure and solving for area, the class had to follow instructions and plot points on a coordinate grid and THEN divide it up to calculate the area.

I also continued with DIBELS and I am thrilled with the level of progress in both fluency and retelling.

In math, today's focus was on applying knowledge of division (both whole numbers and decimals) by problem solving. This too requires reading carefully and understanding/comprehending what is read. I also went over FOSP (Find the numbers to work with; Operation - what do you do with the numbers?; Solve; Prove).

I also recorded a mini-lesson on dividing a whole number by a decimal

In science, we did an experiment involving mass, density, and gravity. Each student had a plastic golf ball and a sheet of paper to see which would drop first. The ball dropped faster until the paper was crumbled into a ball, which demonstrates how density and mass don't affect how objects fall.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013There was no more MAP testing but I did continue with DIBELS. We also continued reading aloud The Long Winter and are more than halfway through that particular book. As I mentioned before, I go through books rather briskly.

Today's warm-up consisted of four math questions covering the usual except for one in which they had to determine which operation should be used to solve the problem rather than solving it. In other words, HOW does one go about solving this problem and why vs. just solving it.

Tomorrow's warm-up will have only two questions, both involving area. This time though, instead of simply dividing up the irregular figure into rectangles/squares and triangles, they will have to carefully read and follow instructions to first construct the figure on a coordinate grid THEN solve for area.

In math, we continued with division but it was totally independent today. The students were divided up into groups of 3-4 and each group was given four of the ten-sided dice. They rolled the dice and chose which three were the dividend and which one was the divisor. It was also their choice as to where the decimal(s) went.

In science, we continued with energy and heat.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013Today was day two of the MAP testing and this time it was for reading. It was on time and on schedule, which was during math, so I found it was necessary to do math when we returned from specials. I was also doing the mid-year DIBELS testing which should be concluded by Friday.

The students came in and had a longer warm-up than before. I think it was perhaps a little too long since a lot of them were not finished despite being given fifteen extra minutes. I will definitely be making it consist of four problems tomorrow.

Lastly, the completed work and progress reports will be going home Friday.

Monday, December 2, 2013## Reminder: the homework and spelling words are due Friday.

Today we began the second shortest month of the school year. While it may be the shortest in chronological time, I have no intention of slowing down and not challenging my students - especially in math!

This week, the DIBELS testing window has opened so I am going to be devoting time during literacy for that. Also, students are doing MAP testing (Measure of Academic Progress) today and tomorrow. I was originally scheduled to do this during math but we were delayed due to students taking longer than anticipated.

So, I am still going to do my best to keep the rotations and other literacy instruction as close to normal as possible.

In math, we continued with division. Since they have obviously mastered long division, I gave them some practice with division involving decimals both in the dividend and divisor. It is a bit tricky but I did record a mini-lesson for both:

All mini-lessons are also available on the Math Help page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013Happy Tuesday/Virtual Friday! We began day two of our two-day week with a warm-up that built upon prior skills just as always. The one thing is that I added a division problem were there was a remainder but instead of writing it as such, they had to solve it as a decimal quotient. As I told them yesterday, it was time to “grow up” in terms of division. I also kept to our normal schedule as much as I could control internally. I also am doing something different. While I have the warm-up activity available for downloading, I have all three in one file rather than three different files since that takes a lot of time (warm-up, full color version, answer key).

In literacy, as I mentioned above, I kept to the rotations and continued with the interactive read aloud of The Long Winter. The one change I made was that students were given extra time to read independently. We also focused some on fact vs. opinion. Next week we will be going over context clues.

For recess, we stayed inside due to the rain and cold. We could have gone out and had recess under the roof but I felt that it was too damp and cold outside for that.

In math, I continued with division with decimals in the quotient. There is a Thanksgiving activity that was sent out but I decided to focus on this instead since it would have meant using up a lot of copies. This activity had the answer key written in invisible ink where the students self-checked under the black light at the back.

There was a challenge division problem with a 14-digit dividend on the back. I don’t have any electronic copies to download but I do have the challenge below:

In science, I kept my promise of showing them the two videos on the dangers of deep frying a turkey. I went over how a turkey needs to be thawed properly first. Putting a frozen turkey into the hot oil is dangerous since heat will transfer from hot to cold. When the hot oil interacts with the frozen turkey, the frozen moisture will change from solid to liquid. Liquid takes up more volume than a solid since the atoms and molecules are spread out more, causing it to expand. With that expansion, the moisture mixes with the hot oil along with the added volume of the turkey that causes the oil to overflow. Since the oil is combustible, as soon as it hits the flame of the burner beneath it, a huge flame erupts until the fuel is burned up.

Monday, November 25, 2013I just love this time of the year! With only two days this week and then a nice long Thanksgiving Break, what’s not to like? Yet, despite this approaching holiday I am still determined to keep your child engaged and challenged. Experience has taught me that this is the best approach since students are understandably excited (just as the teachers are too – trust me!), is to keep them busy with relevant learning content. That is education-speak (“educanese”) for keep them working so they don’t do wild.

They came in to find the warm-up activity both on the Smart Board and on their desks as a graded assignment. Below are both the activity and the answer key.

I continued reading the next book in the Little House on the Prairie series called The Long Winter. This is the sixth book in the eight-book series and it is also considered to be the least fictional of her books so far. This one is pretty accurate in describing the winter of 1880-1881 that was bitterly cold and with blizzards from October to April. The people in the upper Midwest still refer to it as the Hard Winter. That was actually the working title of her book when it was submitted for publishing in 1939/1940. However, the publishing company thought that the word “hard” was no appropriate for children so it was changed to The Long Winter.

In literacy, to keep normality I did the rotations and focused on the reading skill of fact vs. opinion. This is an important reading comprehension skill that helps with the development of critical thinking. Fact is something that can be proven while an opinion is how someone thinks/feels/believes. It may or may not be true. Mastering this skill will make your child a more independent thinker and less likely to be swayed by manipulative advertisements and propaganda. “The sky is blue” is considered a fact since it is provable. “The color blue is the most beautiful” is an opinion since that can never be proven and it is merely what someone thinks. Someone else could just as easily say the same thing about green or any other color in the spectrum.

To make it a little more interesting, I introduced them to a band called Rockin’ the Standards which is made up of former teachers. I have the entire Language Arts CD downloaded and played for them the song Fact and Opinion with the lyrics on the Smart Board. I am attaching the song and lyrics for you to check out as well if you’re interested.

Then we did a brief fact vs. opinion activity in class before doing rotations.

In math I decided to change my plans. I know that I mentioned doing problem solving this week but after thinking about it while blowing leaves in my yard (glad THAT’S over!) I decided that we should do decimal remainders first, followed by decimal division. Once that has been mastered, THEN we will do problem solving. Hopefully though the Singapore Math books will arrive soon and then I will see where to jump in.

With that in mind, I told the students that as far as division is concerned, it is time to “grow up.” In other words, no more quotients with remainders unless told otherwise. From this point forward, if there is a remainder they will keep on solving it until they get to the hundredths place. For example, 10 ÷ 3 is 3.33333333 onward forever. With problems like that, I told them to stop at the hundredths place or simply the second number after the decimal. Instead of 3.3333333 they would just write 3.33 or 3.33‾.

I told them to not worry, just like with multiplication and long division, that I would keep doing this until they mastered it. That is how the rest of the math period went: I put examples on the Smart Board and solved them step-by-step. In retrospect, this lesson went VERY well! They got it and got it quickly! YES!!!!!

I have also created a narrated mini-lesson on division with a decimal quotient and is below if you wish to view it. I have also posted it on the Math Help page.

Friday, November 22, 2013Today we did something a little different in literacy. While I did some reading aloud from By the Shores of Silver Lake, administered the spelling test, and gave out the new words, we also noted that today is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was a good time to review sequence and summarizing so I went to YouTube and showed two

I had to finally fast forward the clip to the first broadcast interruption of the breaking news of the day. They only saw a news bulletin graphic with Walter Cronkite’s voice since it took 20 minutes for the cameras to warm up and be ready.

The second clip was the news footage about the assassination as it was playing out with the climax of Walter Cronkite announcing President Kennedy’s death as official. It was interesting how the news was getting out before the official announcement and how they had to keep reiterating that it was not substantiated.

The student’s assignment was to write a summary of the events in sequential order.

We continued to do the warm up in the new format where each student has a printed copy. This makes it so much easier for solving the area problems.

In math, we continued with long division. Today was one last day of just arithmetic problems that involved just numbers. On Monday and Tuesday, I am planning on focusing on problem solving. Today’s activity was done independently and the students were able to self-check with the black light.

In science we remained in physical science with the focus on energy transfer and gravity. The first experiment was using the magnetic cannon accelerator, which is made up of steel ball bearings and powerful magnets. When the first ball bearing is introduced, the magnet pulls it hard into a collision, which forces the other ball bearings to move forward with the last one shooting out. Below is the video from Thinkgeek.com where I purchased it.

The next experiment was a demonstration of energy transfer to. I can’t remember what it is officially called. It is a stack of bouncy balls on a stick. When the whole thing is dropped, the energy from impacting the floor transfers through each ball and the one at the top shoots off into the air. They noted a connection between the height of the drop and the intensity of the ball flying.

I have found out that there will be no clubs at all next Tuesday due to Thanksgiving Break.

I will be updating this wiki page next week on both days though I am confident that they will be short.

Lastly, report cards were sent out with your child. Please sign the manila colored card and return it inside the envelope on Monday.

Thursday, November 21st, 2013I am sorry that there was no entry yesterday nor an email like there normally is. But, my daughter was sick and I needed to stay home with her. Hopefully that will not be a too frequent occurrence since being out is disruptive to the students. I am sure that my substitute did a fine job but it just isn't the same.

Today, we went on the field trip to Rural Hill which is near (or in) Huntersville and just down the street from Hopewell High School. I thought it was pretty neat being exposed to 18th century life in rural Mecklenburg county. I am so glad that I have been reading the whole Little House series since my class was well prepared for this. Hey, it was educational for me too! I was chatting with our tour guide while the students were preoccupied with the cows (I have cows next to my house so I am desensi

It was cold but it was a lot of fun.

So, the field trip took the entire literacy and recess blocks of time. We returned to the school just in time for lunch.

After lunch, I read aloud from By the Shores of Silver Lake and gave them a division activity. Today they were allowed to work together but tomorrow they will be on their own.

Also, please remember that the math homework is due tomorrow and the spelling test will take place as well. As a reminder, I will be giving out the math homework and spelling words tomorrow, as usual, but they will be due on Friday, December 6th. Next week is only two school days and that is simply too short to be giving out spelling words.

I am hoping that the students will have mastered division enough so that I can move on to actual mathematics. The step-be-step algorithm involved with division is important to know in order to solve problems. That is arithmetic. Mathematics is taking the arithmetic knowledge and applying it towards problems, theoretical and real-life. That is what I really enjoy: creating challenging problems!

Lastly, we will not be switching classes next week since it only consists of Monday and Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013Today was a different day with the chorus performing. That cut math in half but we were still able to do some more long division, with and without remainders. I am starting to feel a lot better about my class since there are a LOT fewer problems with division. Now, it is mostly trivial mistakes. That is a good sign! Once we get that stuff out of the way, then I can have some fun designing multi-step problems that use more than one operation.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud By the Shores of Silver Lake and we did rotations. We also continued with main idea. Some of the students were struggling with the text that I used, which is a series of short paragraphs on a variety of topics.

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However, I have to remind myself that this was meant for 6th graders but I still like to challenge them with more difficult and complex texts.In math, as I mentioned earlier we reviewed division. Students were given twelve division problems to work out and then self-check in the back. The answer key was taped to the back wall under the black light and the answers were written in pink invisible ink. All they had to do was to turn on the black light for the answers to be revealed. I have to say that I was pleased with their progress!!!

In Science, I did an experiment on convection and heat transfer. I passed out a page from my new science notebook that I am going to publish once my real book is completed. I am attaching a copy of it if anyone wants to print it out in full. Each student was given a sheet of the experiment page and observed while I demonstrated energy transfer and heat transfer along with how atoms vibrate faster when energy (heat) is applied to it. Once the experiment/demonstration was completed, the sheet was filled out and turned in.

The demonstration called for the following:

As I did last week, I had a student video my experiment but again it is too big to send. So, I am posting below the demonstration from Loose in the Lab, which is the company that I purchased everything from.

Once the safety/nerd gear was put on in all its geek glory, I held up the fence post, lit the blow torch and inserted the flame into the post at the end where the mesh is. I held the flame to it for about a minute and took out the blow torch, shutting it off. Then, after a few seconds the students noticed this humming noise emanating from the fence post (plus an obnoxious metallic smell). The objective then was to write down what they witnessed, and what they thought had happened. After a brief discussion, they would write down the results.

Basically, the flame from the blow torch heated up the mesh causing its atoms to vibrate at a much faster rate. Since it was trapped within the fence post, it had nowhere to go so the heat was trapped. The vibrations also traveled along the fence post which created a sound since it served as a medium.

Monday, November 18th, 2013Today I began with a warm up involving material other than area. I did focus more on division since that is what we are now doing in math. Though there are still a few students who are struggling with division, we are continuing on with it. I will also continue to review it as much as possible.

Once the warm up was reviewed, I began with the interactive read-aloud of By the Shores of Silver Lake in the Little House on the Prairie series. This is the fifth of the eight books in the series and is the furthest west that the family goes. They go into Dakota Territory following the railroads. I mentioned to the class that this is now the Wild West and this is a much rougher place.

In the notebook, I finally included actual photographs of the Ingalls family so the students have real faces with the characters. The one character that I did not post is Almanzo since he won't appear until the next book, The Long Winter.

We also continued with the skill of main idea and summary. We read a sample passage and had to determine what it was mostly about. I also did this with my guided reading groups.

In math, I went over a review of adding and subtracting decimals and finding the area of of irregular figures. Then, I returned their quiz from Friday and gave them the opportunity to correct anything wrong. We will go over the results tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we will also focus on division and continue with practicing it until we attain mastery. I did tell the class that this was it in terms of basic numeration. Once everything (adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, with/without decimals, etc) have been mastered, THEN we will use calculators. Until then, the calculators will remain off-limits. Even when they will be permitted, it will not be an everyday occurrence. This will be mostly be for multi-step problem solving and problems involving very large numbers.

Lastly, please let me know if there is a particular math skill that I can do a mini-lesson on and post it on the wiki page under Math Help. Really, it is no bother and it only takes me a few minutes to do. Please let me know.....

Friday, November 15, 2013Today’s warm up activity had two parts rather than one this time. The first one was the typical area problem solving that involved multiple calculations of multiple connected figures.

The second one was a review of division from yesterday. Since there are still some students who are learning the method of long division, I went back and had them divide 160 by 7. In this case, there are 160 green heptagons (7-sided polygons) and the student had to divide them into seven equal groups. In this case, there are 22 groups of seven with six left over. So, 160 ÷ 7 = 22 r6.

In literacy, I continued to read On the Banks of Plum Creek and actually managed to finish the book. I then began reading By the Shores of Silver Lake. This book takes place a few years later. There is a new baby, Grace, and Mary is blind from meningitis (not scarlet fever as told in the book). The family had only made two poor wheat crops and now was in dire straits due to having to pay a doctor’s bill. A relative showed up and offered Pa a job in the Dakota Territory with the railroad for $50.00 a month and a chance for getting a claim. Ma didn’t want to move away from a settled place but agreed that this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Also Jack, the faithful old bulldog, passed away. This move would be the last move west for the Ingalls family.

We also did the spelling test and new words for next week were given out. I upped the number of spelling words to twenty and will keep it this way until around May. Once we enter that month, the whole focus will be on preparing for the tests on the week of the 19th.

We also had a main idea quiz for the students to practice their reading comprehension skills.

Math class was split up into four parts. The first part was to collect the homework and then post the answer key. Second, I administered a five question quiz on multi-step problem solving. I kept the number to five to be mindful of the time.

The third part was a review of long division and the process of how to do it. A few students requested that an alternative method of division be taught to them so I did some research and found that there is indeed a lattice division method too. That comprised the last part of the all-too-short math block. I will be posting some mini-lessons and guides on lattice division in order to assist students who need extra help on it. From this point, I will be doing both the traditional and the lattice methods interchangeably, and students will be free to use any method they feel comfortable with. As I had mentioned some time beforehand, I do not concern myself with how they solve math problems as long as they get solved. The “Two C’s” (correct and consistent) approach will always be acceptable to me since there are multiple ways to go about solving a problem. Who cares HOW as long as they get it right?

In science, the focus was on force and motion with gravity as the main concept. We continued watching the video from yesterday until the announcement that Student Ambassadors and others were called. That left me with five students so it pretty much stopped science instruction.

Thursday, November 14, 2013I tried to make today's warm up a little more challenging and I succeeded. Though most of the class eventually figured it out, it did require a lot of revisions to get the correct answer. Below is the warm up along with the solution. I did two things differently today. The first is that students were given a printed copy of the shape and the second is that calculators were permitted.

In literacy, we did the usual activities and tomorrow is the spelling test as well as a main idea activity as an assignment.

In math, I decided that they were ready for long division. As with the multiplication before it, some students had already mastered it while others had never done it before. I did print out a template but I found, unfortunately, an error that rendered it ineffective for those who are learning so I switched to the old-fashioned approach with just the division bar. That is what we did in math. I went over it step-by-step-by-step as many times as I could. By the end of the class, most of the students were able to divide with or without help. We will continue to do this tomorrow after the multiplication quiz.

I did create a mini-lesson on division that is below. If there is no sound, try clicking on the link below it. I will be making more of them but this one is the first.

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/long-division-1/13583404/?ref=app

In science, we continued with physics. I demonstrated two of Newton's laws of motion. I rolled a ball across the floor and it kept on rolling until it was either stopped by one student or another. A body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force (inertia). I mentioned that in space, there is no friction so objects such as space probes continue to move unless something hit them. On Earth though, there are two forces that will eventually slow down and stop the ball: friction and gravity.

The next demonstration was to place the ball on the floor and then kick it. A body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

I then showed the video but we did not have enough time to see all of it. So, below is the video.....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013Today's warm up activity wasn't nearly as daunting as yesterday's and a lot of students got it right very quickly. So, I must therefore really get to them tomorrow. We can't have things easy can we?

In literacy, we continued with the reading aloud of On the Banks of Plum Creek. After listening to the student responses to to the read aloud, I can tell that they have mastered the art of putting oneself within the perspective of the character. In this case, the Ingalls family has a beautiful wheat crop that is almost ready to be harvested. In that crop is the repayment of the lumber used to build their house and the future purchase of a buggy, a silk dress for Ma, and other wonderful things that the family has never had before. So confident was Pa that he gave his last three dollars to the church in order for them to buy a bell instead of a new pair of boots.

The oppressive heat is a small price to pay. Yet, a massive grasshopper invasion dashed their hopes. The whole countryside was eaten away of any foliage and Pa had to walk three hundred miles east to find work for the family to get by.

We also continued with the rotations and I have a new form for conferencing with students on what they have read.

In math, we continued with multi-step problem solving. The students finished the problems very quickly and wrecked my lesson plan so I believe that tomorrow they are now ready for division.

In science, Ms. Allen's class went over a repeat of yesterday's demonstration on heat transfer. This time, I had a student video it. The only problem is that the video file is too large to upload it to this wiki page. Below is the YouTube video from Loose in the Lab, the company that I purchased it from.

Afterwards, we did an experiment on potential and kinetic energy and kinetic energy transfer. I had a student stack six plastic drinking cups in a pyramid shape. I primed and loaded a cool toy called a magnetic accelerator cannon. It has a series of large ball bearings that are lined up. When another ball bearing is placed in the rear, a powerful magnet pulls it fast into a collision. This collision transfers energy to the other side which shoots another ball bearing in a chain reaction. The last bearing rolled across the floor to knock down the cups. The students wrote down approximate distance and elapsed time and speed (we tried but we had trouble using the radar gun).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013There’s nothing like a three day weekend to refresh and relax us! I don’t know about you, but I think three day weekends ought to be the norm rather than the exception. Of course, knowing myself as well as I do, I can easily see myself saying that there is nothing like a FOUR day weekend to refresh and relax and that it ought to be the norm………..

The students returned to what I thought is a pretty challenging warm-up problem. The new math standards are pushing for more complex and multi-step problems in math rather than simple arithmetic and I am confident that today’s warm-up was both. The students had a nice tessellating pattern that reminds a lot of people of linoleum patterns on a kitchen floor. I didn’t have that in mind when I created it. I just started drawing and that is what I came up with. That, dear reader, is one of the secrets of how I do things in the classroom. A lot of things are spontaneous and I am as surprised as the next person as to how they come out.

Anyway, the problem was a pattern made up of regular octagons and squares. There were two larger models of each on the right side with the dimensions needed to calculate the area. Just solving the area for the octagon required three different multiplications and one instance of dividing for the triangle. Then, the students had to add up everything. Once THAT was completed, they had to multiply by the number of total octagons in the figure and then do the same for the number of squares.

Below is the answer

Normally I prefer to attach the notebook file at the end but I thought that this was worth pointing out.

In literacy, we continued with On the Banks of Plum Creek. Once the interactive read-aloud was finished, we did the reader’s workshop with this week’s focus on the skill of determining main idea. So the students returned to their seats to write a reflection on what was read aloud: write the main idea (Laura and Mary went to Nellie’s party) and three details. As we learned before, the main idea is what the given text is mostly about. While the text can have a few or many supporting details, there is only one main idea and the key is to figure out that from mere details.

After that, we did our rotations on the Tuesday schedule since today is Tuesday. I figured that it would be more of a hassle than it’s worth to do Monday on a Tuesday, etc. After the rotations, students had more time to do independent reading and then we closed it out with more reading aloud from On the Banks of Plum Creek.

In math, we are still waiting for the Singapore Math workbooks so I am continuing with multiplication of whole numbers and decimals with an emphasis on multi-step problem solving. The problems that the students had to do on their own for independent practice required more than one step to solve and some of them contained extra, unnecessary information. This also was a good practice for the students.

Below is a downloadable copy of both the assignment and the answer key. The answer key shows the extraneous information crossed out.

Since last week was not conducive to switching, we again switched classes. My students went to Ms. Allen for social studies while her class came to me for science.

In science, I had Ms. Allen’s class come in. After quickly reviewing the content-specific terminology, we had no time to lose so we did some demonstrations/experiments. Today was about both heat and energy transfer along with kinetic and potential energy.

We started with a demonstration of how energy is transferred by locking and loading the Zyclone®. This is a perfect demonstration of potential and kinetic energy. When the Zyclone is pulled back, energy is stored making it potential energy. When it is released, that energy is in motion which is kinetic energy.

I then passed out a page from my new science notebook that I am going to publish once my real book is completed. I am attaching a copy of it if anyone wants to print it out in full. Each student was given a sheet of the experiment page and observed while I demonstrated energy transfer and heat transfer along with how atoms vibrate faster when energy (heat) is applied to it. Once the experiment/demonstration was completed, the sheet was filled out and turned in.

The demonstration called for the following:

Once the safety/nerd gear was put on in all its geek glory, I held up the fence post, lit the blow torch and inserted the flame into the post at the end where the mesh is. I held the flame to it for about a minute and took out the blow torch, shutting it off. Then, after a few seconds the students noticed this humming noise emanating from the fence post (plus an obnoxious metallic smell). The objective then was to write down what they witnessed, and what they thought had happened. After a brief discussion, they would write down the results.

Basically, the flame from the blow torch heated up the mesh causing its atoms to vibrate at a much faster rate. Since it was trapped within the fence post, it had nowhere to go so the heat was trapped. The vibrations also traveled along the fence post which created a sound since it served as a medium.

Friday, November 8, 2013Today we did the spelling test and the new words were assigned. Instead of using up science words, I found a challenging list that is normally for seventh graders. It sure beats the easy stuff.

We also continued with the read-aloud of On the Banks of Plum Creek. What is interesting is that for a book that the class didn't want to have read aloud, they sure are into it. So, it looks like the series stays. As I mentioned before, I will read to the end of These Happy Golden Years where Laura and Almanzo get married. I didn't care much for The First Four Years since it is unfinished and downright depressing. I will encourage the students to read the other books affiliated with the characters but not written by Laura Ingalls Wilder herself (The Caroline years, the Rose years, etc.)

In math, half the class did the higher Singapore Math assessment and the others did some multiplication problem solving. I think they hit the wall with this one, which is fine since we need to get started as soon as possible.

We couldn't switch for science and social studies since the movie Akeela and the Bee. So, Ms. Allen and I will switch for science and social studies next week. One thing that was discussed during the daylong planning yesterday is to have science and social studies in the morning so there can be more time for math in the afternoon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013No update today since I was in all-day grade level planning.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013Today our school held its in-class spellings bees. Since that is a part of language arts, I opted to do this during the literacy block. That was a good idea considering that my class has a lot of good spellers. It took a good hour, at least, to have a winner declared. In the years past when I held spelling bees in my class, students would drop like flies pretty quickly. However, this isn't one of those years. A lot of students stayed in for a long time until we finally arrived at our final four.

After a brief rest and water break, the final four took a while too but quickly dropped down to the final two. After that, Kayden was declared the winner. But, I wanted to get a runner-up so the final three spelled their hearts out until Rohan took second. Good job all around!!!

In math, we FINALLY finished up the Singapore Math assessment, had it self-checked, and then scored. We then did some story problems on the Smart Board.

Due to the spelling bee in Ms. Allen's class in progress, we did not switch. Tomorrow is all day planning for third grade so I am going to see if I can get an hour on Friday.

Picture Day is tomorrow and there is a way for you to fill out the field trip permission form without the paper. Just look below........

A class trip has been approved for Rural Hill Plantation on Thursday, November 21st. It's purpose is to learn about light and heat in the 18th century. We will be traveling by bus leaving the school around 9:30 and returning around 12:30. Since this is a required field trip there is no cost involved.## Dear Parents:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013Well, we finished Farmer Boy and now we returned to the Ingalls family with the book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. In this book, the setting is a few months after they had left Kansas in a hurry since they had heard that soldiers were going to force them to leave. They had traveled across Missouri, Iowa, and a good ways into Minnesota where they settled about three miles outside Walnut Grove.

This is a first for the family since the land the house that came on the land they had traded their horses for was a dugout. Today, all that remains of the dugout is an odd-shaped depression in the land along Plum Creek due to flooding back in the 1930's.

We also continued with our rotations on the modified schedule. So far it is working out. It went a lot smoother today. It might be a good idea to actually take a break between rotations and take the class to the restroom. I think that will be the plan tomorrow.

In math, we continued with the Singapore Math assessment. Though there are still a few students who have not finished, we will score it tomorrow. Those who did not finish can work on it tomorrow during morning work. Once that has been over and done with, we can work on problem solving.

We did cover it this morning. As you can see on the Smart Board notebook that one of the problems involved problem solving with multiplication. I did introduce the FOSP method and we used it to solve the morning work problem.

Today, our classes switched for science and social studies. In science, Ms. Allen's class came and we watched a video on energy and heat transfer. Since time is limited, today's focus was on the video and tomorrow there will be at least two demonstrations/experiments tomorrow. Below is the video if you wish to watch it.

Lastly, the field trip permission forms were sent home. This is a required field trip so there is no fee.

Monday, November 4, 2013Thanks to all of the parents who came for the conferences. I know that I had mentioned this earlier but after Friday my thoughts were reinforced. I really enjoy conferences since it gives me a chance to meet with all of you and get to know both you and my students a little better. Thanks also to Ms. Bingu for the wonderful chana masala and roti. They were delicious and it saved me from having to go out and eat. I would also like to thank Ms. Sheladia for the wonderful pie!!! Also, thanks are in order (again but NEVER, never, ever are enough) for the parents who came to help out with the Halloween party, the clean up, the card, and the Amazon gift card.

In literacy, we continued with reading aloud Farmer Boy. We are getting to the end of the book and it is sad in a way. All of you serious readers know what I mean when finishing a loved piece of literature is like saying goodbye to someone special.

We also started working on drawing conclusions, which is related to inference so much that they might as well be synonyms. It is a higher level thinking skill where one "reads between the lines" and has to figure out what is being implied rather than what is said.

Well, once again your kids made it difficult. I went with my family to Concord Mills on Saturday and went into this education store. In it was a series of card packs devoted to particular reading comprehension skills. I picked out Drawing Conclusions since that is what we are covering today and I chose the highest reading level available (5-6). Of course, silly me, it wasn't high enough. So much for that brilliant idea! So, I am donating the cards to another teacher. It's a good thing that I have taught elementary before so I could pull out material that I have used in years past. It is Common Core enough to get by. Whew!

In literacy we also continued with the rotations but with a modification in terms of the names and rotation schedules. The groups are the same but some of the names have changed (reading group is now Book Club). Below is the revised rotation schedule.

In math, we did the Singapore Math assessment again since we were given the wrong one. This one is better and more in depth. The students were told they were not allowed to stress over it since it didn't count. Of course, as focused as they were you would have thought that it was. We will go over it and come up with a percentage on it and then focus on multiplication problem solving with a simple strategy. Below is a sneak preview. I made it up so of course it is going to be odd but hey, that's me!

It is pretty simple. The first part, F, is to find the numbers in a word problem. I mean, really - it isn't math if there aren't numbers, right? In order to do math you need to find at least two numbers to work with. They could be the easy, straightforward, in-your-face numbers that anyone can see or they could be in word form. They could even be more subtle.

The next part is operation. Easy enough: now that the numbers have been located, figure out what to do with them based on the text in the problem. There are only four basic operations: add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

The third step is to solve it. The numbers have been located, their operation(s) discerned, and now is the time to do some math!

The last step is to prove it by inverse operations. That is nothing more than a fancy term for doing the opposite operation. Did you add? Subtract. Did you divide? Multiply.

And that is that!

Tomorrow will also be social studies for my students and science for Ms. Allen's class since last week as a no-go due to all of the scheduling conflicts.

Thursday, October 31, 2013Happy Halloween! Today was interesting. There are a few days during the school year that teachers dread: Halloween, the day after Halloween, Valentine's Day, full moons, and the day before a major holiday. But, at least the day after Halloween is not a school day. Hooray!!!

Despite this being a minor, non-official holiday, work did get done. In math, we went over the Singapore Math quiz and the homework. Next week's homework was also assigned and passed out. I am, of course, putting a downloadable copy below as well.

One last note: there were papers that were distributed to the students to take home such as the picture order form, the "Buzz" newsletter, and others. A lot of the students left them here so I will be giving them out tomorrow during the conferences. See you then!!!!!

P.S.

for the card, the flowers, and the gift card!!!!!!!!THANK YOUWednesday, October 30, 2013In literacy, we continued with the literature circles. I also continued reading aloud from Farmer Boy. The books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are pretty quick reads and we are already half-way through the book. I am still amused as to how the kids are into the book after whining about it being "boring." So, unless I am mistaken we will continue with the series until it ends with Laura and Almanzo getting married at the end of These Happy Golden Years. I don't care to read The First Four Years since it is incomplete and a real downer in terms of the overall tone of the story.

In math, the PTA gave me the initial assessment for the Singapore Math program and that is what they worked on. I had to reassure them that this is not for a grade. Some of them were worried when they saw division problems and didn't know how to do it. Well, of course they didn't know how to do division since we are still on multiplication. This is just an assessment to see what they know. This will also help in determining which Singapore Math book to start with.

http://www.singaporemath.com/

The students were free to use any method (other than a calculator, of course) they liked to solve the problems since that is what math is about: solving problems and knowing that there are usually multiple ways to go about doing it.

For those of you who do not know what Singapore Math is, it is based on the math curriculum of that country. I remember it from my days in teaching in Union County where the AIG (Academically Intellectually Gifted - basically their version of Talent Development) teachers used it. It does focus on higher level thinking skills and problem solving (like me, yay!!!!) so I consider it to be another tool to use.

However, the homework for next week will still be created by me. I am still not certain if the books are consumable or not so I need to ask. I still plan on supplementing the program since no program, regardless of subject, will completely fit.

We could not switch for science and social studies again today due to Ms. Allen's class doing presentations on their project involving a scientist. However, she did give the class an assignment to do.

Tomorrow is the spelling test and the words for next week will increase to 15. Also, the math homework is due and the answer key will be posted online.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013This is going to be short.

Today, Ms. Jones took over the literacy lesson and did a lesson on getting to know the character and empathizing with him/her.

In math, we continued the quiz from yesterday and then had to cut it short for an assembly.

Monday, October 28, 2013Today we began the final week of the first quarter. This is a short week with Friday being a teacher workday meant for parent-teacher conferences. Again, I am thankful to all of you for being prompt in signing up for your child's conference. I am at 100%!!! Truly, I am looking forward for the opportunity to discuss how things are with your child.

In literacy, we began with Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A lot of the students were mumbling and moaning about how they thought it was going to be "boring", etc. Well, things started out pretty interesting with a throwdown in the schoolhouse involving five big teenagers who were trying to thrash the teacher, only to have the teacher fight back with a whip. Now, the students are starting to think that maybe this book is interesting after all. It really is one of my favorites in the series.

We also did the visual literacy and went over main idea a bit. Then, we went to our rotations for the Daily Five.

In math, I gave then a ten question quiz on decimals (add, subtract, and multiply) and area. I am going to check these tonight and give them a chance tomorrow to finish/fix the ones wrong. Below is a copy without the answer key along with today's notebook from the Smart Board.

Since today is a double specials (art and then music), they did not have social studies but that begins tomorrow.

Lastly, I want to let you know a few days in advance so you have notice about an idea of what I want to do on Thursday. Today, we had our monthly fire drill. Since it happened during specials, I went outside a few minutes early to avoid the noise. Since I had a few minutes, I took in my surroundings and noticed this nice outdoor classroom. I would like to do literacy class, at least the part for rotations, outdoors. The benches don't look too comfortable so I am asking each student to bring an old towel or sheet to sit on while outdoors. Of course, this does depend upon the weather but I think that it will be a nice change. So, please bring either an old towel or sheet on Thursday.

Friday, October 25, 2013Today we did not do the rotations in literacy due to today’s schedule. We did the interactive read-aloud, the spelling test, the new spelling words, and a reading comprehension activity. Since our time for the book fair was from 11:00-11:20, it made the rotations impractical. However, the book fair is for a very good cause so I don’t mind the disruption at all. I have to say that I really am grateful to all of the parent volunteers who helped out!

Today we finished reading The Pool of Fire and thus ended the Tripods series of books. On Monday, we will resume with the Little House on the Prairie series with the third book written, Farmer Boy. I am happy that this book was well received by the class, who were very much into it and were emotionally involved with the story and its characters. I hope the same can be said about the Ingalls family too.

Next week’s spelling words have been given out and the test is going to be on Thursday (Happy Halloween!) since it is a short week.

The spelling words are:

1) Velocity

2) Acceleration

3) Potential

4) Kinetic

5) Motion

6) Transmission

7) Vacuum

8) Physics

9) Heliosheath

10) Geocentric

In math, we did some more of multiplication of decimals and whole numbers. But, I wanted to do something different. As I mentioned yesterday, I took painter’s tape and created a series of lattices throughout the room. The students were divided into five different groups, each group assigned a particular lattice. Four were on the floor and one on the marker board. Each group was given a set of number cards to cut out and order from 0-9. Also, each group was given something to indicate decimals. When all was ready, I demonstrated how each number card was used instead of writing down the number. For example, if they were to multiply 52 and 17, they would put the card with the 5 in one spot, the 2 in another, and so on. The decimal indicators were used to show where the decimal place goes in the answer by sliding them to meet. The activity was well-received but I had to stop it prematurely since they were getting a bit rowdy and some were starting to argue. So, afterwards they did an independent activity on multiplying. Below are some pictures of the lattices and the correct responses.

The homework assignment has also been posted and it too is due on Thursday, October 31st.

For the science fair, the bibliography and hypothesis are due on Thursday. I did send out a link that will make the bibliography so much easier: http://www.easybib.com

In science, we reviewed matter and energy. For my class, I am going to have them do some more of the science work during literacy since a lot of that incorporates reading skills.

Thursday, October 24, 2013Today was basically a continuation of everything. The read-aloud is coming to an end faster than anticipated so I can see beginning Farmer Boy next week.

We continued the rotations in literacy and while it is nice, the students are still trying to get used to it. There were some instances of goofing off and they were addressed.

In math, we continued with multiplying decimals and whole numbers. I spent today putting down painter's tape on the floor throughout the room in the shape of lattices. Their purpose will be fulfilled tomorrow. Let's just say that this will make multiplication a lot more interactive and its just the way a lot of us like it!

The first due date for the science fair project is tomorrow and it is stating the research question and purpose. I have sent out an email to each parent in both my class and in Ms. Allen's class with a link to a form to fill out. All your child needs to do is type in the question and write a very brief statement about its purpose. There is an option to attach a file if need be though it isn't required.

Lastly, I have compiled the comic adaptation for the books, The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire. The City of Gold and Lead can be found here or on The Tripods page in this wiki.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013Finally! After a lot of trying the class did the Daily Five rotations. The class was split into four groups and was roughly based on their reading group - near enough! Each group is numbered one to four until they decide what their names are. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to devote some time for that one. Below is a copy of the rotation schedule along with a description of what each rotation is devoted to. I also have one on the Smart Board that has the names of each students to indicate which group they are a part of but I do not feel comfortable posting this on my wiki page.

I also have this on the Reading Rotation page too.

This actually worked out pretty well. There were some students who were not choosing to follow instructions but overall it wasn't bad.

We also did the visual literacy and continued the reading aloud of The Pool of Fire.

In math, we continued with the multiplication of decimals and whole numbers. Most of the students have grasped the understanding of moving the decimal point at the end but I still feel that they need another day of practice. I did a few examples on the Smart Board and then passed out an activity (not graded!) for them to work on either at their groups or individually. This time, I had the answer key taped to the back wall under the black light. The paper had the correct answers written in invisible ink and the students, when finished, would turn on the black light and compare/contrast their answers with that of the answer key.

I used the blue invisible ink which works but not as well as I prefer so I think I will stick with the pink colored invisible ink.

In science, I didn't get the opportunity to journal yesterday about how it went. Ms. Allen's class came and we did the experiment of combining water mixed with Borax and Elmer's Glue. When mixed together, the liquid of the glue became sort of a solid in the form of a Silly Putty-like material. It is very easy to make and the kids loved it! I told them that Silly Putty had its origins in 1943 when a chemist was trying to make a synthetic rubber. Instead, he made the first batch of Silly Putty and shelved it since it didn't have the properties that he was looking for. About ten years later, a salesman from that company handed out the putty to entertain some prospective clients. One of them had the idea of making a toy out of it and the rest is history.

Today though, I had them copy down the notes that will be on a test coming up next Friday. Below are the notes that they are responsible for:

- the amount of energy transferred in matterHeat- the measure of heat energy in matterTemperature- the units of measurement for heat and temperatureDegree- transfer of heat between substances that are in direct contact with each otherConduction- warmer areas of a liquid or gas rise to cooler areas in the liquid or gasConvection- energy in the form of waves, rays, or particlesRadiation- how much of something there is in matterDensityAlso, our turn to go to the Book Fair is Friday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013Today in literacy I continued reading aloud from the final book of the Tripod series, The Pool of Fire and in visual literacy I used the two Far Side comics that were not shown on Friday. I have also been showing them on a daily basis the Boys Life comic adaptation of the original Tripods trilogy. It was serialized with roughly one chapter each month from 1981 to 1986. It was this comic adaptation that got me hooked on this literature. It was also maddening because the comic was only one page and once it was read, I had to wait an entire month for the next one. Five years is a long time!

In literacy, the students also returned to their literature groups to read their chosen novel. Tomorrow we will be doing rotations so you will know more about what it is like in tomorrow's entry.

In math......let's just say a lot of my students could definitely not complain about not being challenged today. I introduced decimal multiplication. While a lot of students got it pretty quickly, others had some trouble with it - especially the part about moving the decimal point at the end. However, we will continue with it tomorrow and foresee ably the rest of the week. I won't move on to division until I am comfortable with the class having mastered all of this first.

After specials, the class didn't go to social studies with Ms. Allen but instead Ms. Allen and her class came to us.

Monday, October 21, 2013Sigh, once again I had to miss a Friday. Thanks to all of you who have sent kind emails! Alivia is doing much better and I am happy to say that the next time she is sick, it is my wife's turn to miss a day of work.

In literacy, we finally finished the read-aloud, The City of Gold and Lead and just began the final book in the the series, The Pool of Fire. Once this is finished, we will return to the Little House series by Laura Inglalls Wilder.

The class also got into their literacy groups and began reading their chosen novels written in their chosen genres. I will soon begin to meet with each group to debrief and have them explain to me what they are reading, a summary of what is being read, a brief oral sketch of the characters, the setting, etc.

The students also were given a nice block of time to read independently. We will also be working some more on main idea, supporting details, and character studies.

In math, we continued with a synthesis of both geometry and multiplication. While they are beginning to master two digit multiplication, I am still reviewing area and perimeter only at a more challenging level. I have to say that I am being challenged too since I am giving them more creative and challenging warm-ups associated with those skills.

After going over today's math warm-up, which I tested them by giving the class a THREE-digit by two digit problem, I knew right then and there that they are now ready to be on their own. So today, I didn't even bother reviewing anymore! I split them into groups, gave each group four of the ten-sided dice, and let them go. They already knew to use the dice to roll numbers to multiply and then work them out.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day in science. As I mentioned during my email before leaving on Friday, my class and Ms. Allen's will combine during science/social studies to do the activity that I was not able to do. Plus, I didn't get the chance to do this with my class either so this will be a great opportunity to take care of that issue. Plus, I want to be able to get them going on the science fair.

Science Fair: I sent out a copy with my class on the timeline and due dates. Please do not panic that the time line is off. I will be giving the class PLENTY of time to work on this if need be. Plus, I want to take some time tomorrow to get them thinking on what they would like to explore. I will also be sending home periodically (either email or paper - probably email to be less wasteful) a checklist of how your child is progressing on the project. It is due on January 14th and the actual science fair is the 15th of January. The parents get to visit on the 16th.

Lastly, I would like for your child to do a math research project that would be due on Tuesday, November 26th. My idea is to have all of the parents who are able to, to come in and check out the projects. I will have hot drinks and snacks available too. I didn't mention this yet because I wanted Ms. Range's approval, which I have received. So, more information on that will be given out soon. The project will be due on that Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break since I like to give my students a lot of time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013Please be sure to bring technology tomorrow.Today went pretty well I would say. In literacy for the visual part I stopped doing the Dr. Seuss from World War 2 since it required a lot of explanations for them to begin to grasp it so I instead put two of the Far Side comics in there. Starting on Monday, I will be doing some propaganda posters to see how they interpret them. I know it will require a mini-lesson on that since everything in the picture is deliberate and for a reason - everything means something.

I also had the class get into their reading groups and choose which book to read together. Horror and realistic fiction were the biggest groups, respectfully. I did allow the groups the option of splitting into smaller groups if they couldn't decide collectively upon one single book. That did happen with realistic fiction and it is kind of amusing how the group splintered along gender lines with the girls picking one book and the boys another.

We also continued with main idea with an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. The text itself was one paragraph and the work involved filling in a graphic organizer with the main idea at the top and three supporting details below it. I can't wait for tomorrow's activity - The Main Idea Massacre. I did it last year with my 4th graders at Olde Providence and they had a lot of fun (and learning!) doing it.

In math, we continued with multiplying two, two-digit numbers. I gave them an in-class activity that was not graded. Tomorrow's will be but I wanted them to do this on their own first without any sort of worries about it being for a grade. Each student was given a two-page sheet, front and back. Both pages had multiplication problems but they had a choice of doing it with the traditional algorithm (vertical) or the lattice. The cool part was when they were finished they went to the back of the room where the answer keys were taped to the wall with the answers written with invisible ink. The students turned on the black light and held up their work to compare it with the now-visible answers to self-check.

In social studies, I noticed that Ms. Allen was going over the different branches of our federal government and its system of checks and balances.

In science, I continued with matter and density. We did three experiments. The first one was to predict what would happen when a jar of water and oil were vigorously shaken. As I am typing this during my planning period (3:11 pm) the mixture is mostly separated but the oil is still somewhat cloudy.

The second experiment involved a redo of last week's failure: I does the amount of sugar mixed in water affect its density? The answer is yes. The other question is: what would happen if different mixtures of sugar water were placed in the same container? The answer is that they are SUPPOSED to separate. This time it somewhat worked.

I poured equal amounts of warm water into two different laboratory beakers. One received blue food coloring and the other green (oops - it was supposed to have been yellow). The blue beaker had a tablespoon of sugar mixed in and the green beaker got seven tablespoons of sugar (to empty the bag). I poured the green first into a third beaker and then oh-so-carefully introduced the blue sugar water via a syringe. The result was that it separated if you looked very closely but it is hard to tell from the picture.

The third involved density too. The two beakers were emptied and refilled. The first one was filled with cool water from the tap while the other one had an equal amount of boiling water poured in. I added three drops of blue food coloring and we observed which one mixed the fastest. The class predicted accurately that the hot water would mix faster since hot water is less dense due to the expansion of molecules caused by the addition of energy (heat).

Tomorrow will be the finale.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013Thanks to all of the parents who signed up for conferences on Friday, November 1. If you haven't done so yet, there are still plenty of time slots available. I will be sending out the email with the modified drop-down menu of the remaining time slots.

Today the class got to vote on books for their reading groups. They had a choice that included continuing to read The Egypt Game, horror, science fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. While I have compiled the different groups, class time will be devoted to putting them into groups and deciding upon which book to read. Parents, it may come down to you needing to purchase a copy for your child. If this is an issue, please let me know.

In the interactive read aloud, I continued with the third book of the Tripods series, The City of Gold and Lead. It is highly likely that this book will be finished and also as likely that the final book, The Pool of Fire, will be finished before Thanksgiving Break.

We also did visual literacy with one from the World War 2 era drawings of Dr. Seuss and one from The Far Side.

We did continue with main idea.

In math, we continued with multiplication of two, two-digit numbers using both methods from yesterday. The students overall did much better but I am still not totally ready for them to be on their own - yet. I think tomorrow they will be and when I am comfortable I will have them do it on their own. I believe I will do something a little different though. They will be given an independent assignment or activity but they will self-check. I will decide tomorrow how. It won't be something they have done before.

In social studies they returned to Ms. Allen's class and did whatever they did.

In science, I had Ms. Allen's students for a review on the energy notes and three demonstrations concerning density. The first one was something called a Density Tower. It consists of nine layers: honey, corn syrup, pure maple syrup, milk, dish soap, water, vegetable oil, rubbing alcohol, and lamp oil. The differing densities caused each layer to separate.

The second demonstration involved my "lava lamp." It has a layer of blue colored water and a much bigger layer of vegetable oil. The object is to drop an Alka Seltzer tablet. Due to the densities of the water and oil, the bubbles rose and then sunk back down.

The third demonstration involved making a prediction: I already had vegetable oil in a jar and some green colored water. What would happen if the water was quickly introduced to the oil rather than carefully, one layer at a time? After the predictions, I did it and the water and oil very quickly separated.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013I didn't get the chance to have the kids vote on what novel unit to do so hopefully I will be able to tomorrow. We did focus on main idea with an in-class assignment. Since some of the students didn't do so well, I will have another one tomorrow.

In literacy, as I mentioned above, we focused on main idea which is what it (being the paragraph, page, whole text, whatever) is mostly about. I definitely feel that more mini-lessons are in order for this.

I also had the students work on writing poetry of any kind. I prefer right now to let them express themselves before doing more structured poems such as haiku and limericks.

In math, we began doing multiplication of two, two-digit numbers since the students seem to be pretty familiar with their times tables. I am still planning on reinforcing them but for the most part they have it down.

Below is a graphic showing how to use the lattice though I am posting it on the Math Help page of this wiki.

Since this week is social studies, your children went to Ms. Allen's class and did whatever it was that they did. I had her class for science.

In science, Ms. Allen's class came to me for the first of four days. We are transitioning into energy but still need to finish up matter. So, the kids came in to see text on an odd background:

This is from a website (http://doodler3d.trevorboyle.com/) that allows you to draw in 3D. In order for this to be effective, I passed out to each student a pair of 3D glasses. These are the exact same kind that my class received. They need to bring them every day. The next screen had this background:

This is taken from something called Virtual Reality Paper. It is truly an awesome product in which you can use any colored pencil or pen, marker, whatever and draw. When you put on a pair of 3D glasses, the images have the illusion of "floating" much better than the traditional red and cyan anaglyph that most people think of when they think of 3D.

The students took notes today on energy and ways that heat can travel. The text they copied from was in 3D. The purpose behind the 3D is simply to make it more interesting and fun.

The next thing that Ms. Allen's class received was this: each student received a Design-a-Mug to take home and keep. What they do with it is take it apart and write their notes on the blank side of one of the pieces of paper. When they get home, they can review their notes every time they have something to drink. The nice thing is that the paper is replaceable and I will give them new sheets every time we take notes.

Below is an example from one of my students who wrote the spelling words down:

Lastly, today we began doing clubs. Let's just say that it is the first time so there are kinks to be worked out. My club involves creating the mobile app that I have available for downloading. When I can secure the computer lab, I will take the students to Sploder where they can design their own video games.

Monday, October 14, 2013Today we continued with our normal schedule. I read aloud from The City of Gold and Lead once I went over the warm-up activities. I also did two visual literacy warm-up activities rather than just the one. The first was a Dr. Seuss comic illustrated during World War 2 urging people to purchase war bonds and the second one was from The Far Side. As always, a copy of the Smart Board notebook is .pdf format is attached at the end of today's entry.

Also in literacy the students continued reading from The Egypt Game. In truth, there doesn't seem to be a lot of enthusiasm for the book so I believe that I will get students to choose what they would like to read. The tentative plan is this: each student will get a slip of paper like a ballot in which they choose the following:

1) Continue reading The Egypt Game

2) Science Fiction

3) Fantasy

4) Historical Fiction

5) Realistic Fiction

Then, once the ballots have been turned in I will group the students accordingly and let each group decide for itself what book to read together. I will have to offer several choices, of course.

In math, we did more geometry and I think that this will be the last full day of it until later on in the year. I taught them area, perimeter, attributes of shapes, etc. beyond the average middle schooler so it is time to move on. There will be the common assessment on Friday but that ought to not take up too much time. I feel the time has come to jump into multiplication and division. While I will be reinforcing the times tables and going over what multiplication really is, I feel that it shouldn't take long and that they are ready to do at least two-digit by two-digit soon after that. I am planning on teaching them two methods. The first method is the traditional algorithm that all of us learned growing up. The second one is the lattice method. Your child will be given a graphic organizer within a sheet protector of both. Then, each student will be given a choice of which one to use.

Friday, October 11, 2013Welcome back! It has been a very busy week in which a lot of time was spent doing DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills), a state-mandated assessment for grades up to third. Students first do an activity in which they have three minutes (and only three minutes!) to read a passage and determine which of the three word choices will best fit with each sentence. It basically measures vocabulary skills. The others involves reading aloud passages for one minute while the teacher notes errors (running records). The student then retells as much as possible in one minute too (oral fluency and comprehension). Once that is established, students will read a passage or series of passages to determine their true reading level.

However, it is all finished until December when we do the middle-of-year assessment. Please note that this will be done over the course of a few weeks and I will only do a couple of students each day during independent activities to minimize disruption. This week’s was rushed because it is a new version of the program involving iPads, training to use them, etc. There was a steep learning curve so we had a lot to overcome. The next time, I feel, will go much smoother.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud from The Tripod series of books. Yesterday, I had just enough time to begin reading the third book, The City of Gold and Lead. I am confident that the final book, The Pool of Fire, will be finished next month and I will then return to the Little House books.

We also started something new yesterday in the visual literacy segment of the literacy block.

Instead of doing funny comics, I am taking a break from that to do something more challenging. During World War 2 from 1941 to 1943 Dr. Seuss drew a series of cartoons to inspire people for the war effort. We will be looking at some of them to determine their meaning. I did have to explain about War Bonds, rationing, appeasement, etc. After that it will become even more challenging with the introduction of propaganda posters from both world wars – both sides, Soviet propaganda, and others. This will help with higher level thinking skills such as inference and drawing conclusions, author’s purpose, symbolism, and recognizing bias. In other words, it will be very helpful in developing critical thinking skills. Also, there are again two versions: 2D and 3D.

The students also took their spelling test. This one and next week’s will be based on the book they are reading in class called, The Egypt Game.

After the spelling test, they got together to read the book some more and fill out a reflection on a prediction of what they think will happen.

In math, we continued with area and perimeter including irregular figures, triangles, and parallelograms. I decided not to do trapezoids since we are going to start phasing out of geometry soon.

In science, we continued with matter, states of matter, and the study of density. Yesterday, I attempted to create what is called a Density Tower and while it did work, in one section it was very difficult to tell where each substance was due to coloration. Plus, I did not have any milk so I tried again today.

Following the layer of milk, I squirted dish soap into a layer, colored water, and vegetable oil. The last two layers were rubbing alcohol and finally lamp oil. If done properly, all of the layers will be distinct due to the differences in density among each substance. The old saying is that oil and water don’t mix and this experiment proves it.

Density is basically how much "stuff" is smashed into a particular area... or a comparison between an object's mass and volume. Remember the all-important equation: Density = Mass divided by Volume. Based on this equation, if the weight (or mass) of something increases but the volume stays the same, the density has to go up. Likewise, if the mass decreases but the volume stays the same, the density has to go down. Lighter liquids (like water or rubbing alcohol) are less dense than heavy liquids (like honey or corn syrup) and so float on top of the more dense layers.

We did a second one along the same idea but with only three ingredients: water, sugar, and food coloring. The question is: does the amount of sugar in the water affect its density? The students then formulated a hypothesis.

Now, once there is a hypothesis it needs to be tested. I took four cups of equal amounts of water. I explained to the class that the amount of water needs to be equal in order for the experiment to be successful (independent variable). I put a drop of food coloring in each cup of water to have four different colors.

Now for the experiment: the first cup had 2 tablespoons of sugar. The second cup received 4, the third cup had six and the last cup got eight. Once the sugar was dissolved in each cup of water the moment of truth was at hand. Will they be separate and distinct colorful layers or would it all mix together into a dark mass?

The following week will transition from matter to energy but there will be an experiment on changing matter from one state to another, not with adding or subtracting heat but with a chemical transformation. Let’s just say that I stocked up on Wet Ones® wipes for their hands

For Ms. Allen's class, each student will be receiving the Design-a-Mug and a pair of 3D glasses on Monday. Please be sure that your child keeps them secure and brings them to class each day. I like to do a lot in 3D since it makes things more interesting.

Thursday, October 3, 2013I told the class that tomorrow is going to be the last day we are doing base 3 problems for warm-ups in the morning since I would like to devote the space for other concepts that could be practiced.

In literacy, I began reading aloud the second book in the Tripods series. In actuality, it was the first book written and it is titled, The White Mountains. When the Tripods Came was more of a prequel to show readers how the Tripods conquered the Earth and enslaved humanity. The setting is back in southwest England about 100 years after the Tripods have conquered. People live the same way they did back in the 1800's before electricity. There is no technology, no new ideas, and no curiosity.

I also did a Tech Time Times Three theme today. I had the students read the fourth chapter of The Egypt Game. Instead of writing a reflection on paper, I had them log in to Socrative and type in their reflection. This isn't a graded activity. When asked if it was a test, I responded that it was a test to see how well this worked. It wasn't too bad but I did have a learning curve to overcome. I think I will continue to use it for student responses but not for assignments or tests. The big problem that I experienced was that image files would never load. That is something that I don't like so another alternative will be explored tomorrow.

You can check it out somewhat by going to www.m.socrative.com and typing in 514034 for the classroom number. However, it won't do anything unless the teacher activates it.

The students also had time to work on their fictional stories and do independent reading, which is very beneficial.

In math, I gave the class the option of answering the warm-up question online using Socrative. It had mixed success but it was successful enough to warrant further use in the future. I then had them do the next activity which was ten questions covering things like adding, decimals, money, geometry, and perimeter.

Again, this too was not for a grade since I was testing it to see how well it works. The one neat thing about Socrative is that it gives the teacher live updates in real time so I can see who has finished and who is still working. More so, I can see on one screen their status including how many questions were answered and how many were answered correctly in the form of a fraction. For example, Joe Smith is on question 7 and he has five of them correct, I would see 5/7 on the screen.

I then had them explore geometry on an interactive site. The only issue is that the interactive sites don't always work on tablets, and that student behavior can be challenging. I have had to deal with students being very rude and especially not following instructions. Tomorrow will see whether or not we can continue doing this. I will let you all know how it goes.

The classes also switched for science and social studies. My homeroom returned to Ms. Allen's class while her class came to me again for science.

In science, the students were given class time to finish up their assignment from yesterday which was to read pages F-11 to F-21 and answer the questions on page F-21. I then reviewed the five states of matter and how adding and subtracting energy will affect the state of matter. I did demonstrate with the inflated balloon again to show that air does have matter and that an inflated balloon is proof of it.

I then showed them how I did the needle-through-the-balloon trick. The key is to lubricate the needle and insert it into the bottom of the balloon and out the top near the knot. This is the only way it will work. The secret is that the bottom and top are the thickest parts. The sides are too thin due to stretching.

Next, I used fire again by lighting a blowtorch. I then placed a brass sphere into the flame while another rod had a brass hole about the same size as the sphere. The class did hypothesize that the sphere would expand due to the heat so I tried to insert it into the hole with no success.

Tomorrow, we will do another demonstration and hopefully an experiment involving a change in the state of matter due to a chemical reaction rather than heat.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013This is going to have to be a short one. The third grade had a half-day planning session devoted to literacy and planning out what mini-lessons to go over during this month. I am going to have to tweak it to meet the needs of the students but it shouldn't prove to be a problem.

This is a reminder to please allow your child to bring his/her tech device both tomorrow and Friday. We are going to try Socrative and I am also looking at another site too for Friday. I am still leaning towards Socrative due to its user-friendliness and simplicity. We shall certainly see.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013I knew that by being out for only one single day, things would be messed up. It really hit home as I began to type this seeing that the last entry was last Thursday and now we are in the month of October. I have to say, October-December are my favorite months of the school year. It is now autumn, the leaves are turning and the temperatures are more favorable. There is so much to look forward to and of course, the holidays too. Well, I sort of like the holidays. I like the spirit of the holidays but being a parent.....well, you know what I mean.

I wasn't able to add an entry for yesterday but we were still engaged and busy. I am attaching yesterday's Smart Board notebook file and work for you to look at. One thing I need to change with the Smart Board presentation is to make duplicates of slides in which items are manipulated and moved around. I realized that all you see is the finished product and not the "before" part of it. Today, I made sure that was the case.

One thing before I go on with the description of today: Thursday and Friday are going to be tech days. The reason for the need to bring devices is that I want to try something new on Thursday and give an online geometry quiz on Friday.

One thing that I wish I had is a student response system where each student has an individual remote control device which allows them to enter their response to questions on a screen. It is kind of like Jeopardy on a grander scale but all responses are recorded. Well, I was searching for an alternative like I always do when faced with reality and came upon Socrative. It looks like the perfect thing. Instead of a student remote, which costs a lot, students can use computers, smart phones, and tablets. So, I want to experiment with it on Thursday to work out any difficulties and then do the quiz on Friday. Another nice feature is that no one needs a separate user name and password. They simply log into the site, type in a number to signify the teacher and activity, and go on from there.

Here is the link if you are interested in checking it out: www.socrative.com

In reading, I continued with the fast-paced book, When the Tripods Came. Things are getting worse and the students have been warned that things continue to get progressively worse until the end. I mentioned that whether or not the book has a positive or negative ending is up to each individual. They do know that the Tripods take over the Earth, that is a given since this book is a prequel to the trilogy that comes next.

People start to behave strangely and act out violently towards those who don't like the Tripods nor the Trippy Show. People also began to leave home, workers quit showing up at their jobs, and things get chaotic.

The main character, Lawrence ("Laurie") woke up one morning to breaking news that a second wave of Tripods have landed throughout the Earth and are surrounded by its followers. The government could do nothing since to destroy the Tripods would put the people at serious risk.

However, once the Tripods began to move towards London, the Royal Air Force destroyed them in a desperate move. In fact, this action took place throughout the world. As distasteful as it was, it was deemed necessary.

Despite the Tripods being destroyed, people still disappeared, whole towns became under the control of the Trippies. More people were capped.

The story goes on....the family fled England to the small island called Guernsey which too was controlled by the capped. In a desperate move, the family booked a flight back to England, hijacked the plane, and forced it to land in Geneva, Switzerland which is the last apparent free country.

We also did a visual literacy activity and began a new novel unit on a book called, The Egypt Game. Students read the second chapter together with a partner and had to write a one paragraph summary of chapters 1 and 2. The purpose of the written assignments is to keep the students accountable and to make sure that they are reading.

In math, we continued our study of geometry and perimeter. Today's focus was a review of finding the perimeter of irregular figures with missing side measures. The big focus today was comparing and contrasting the attributes of triangles and quadrilaterals and classifying them (grouping) according to attributes in a triple Venn Diagram. I did this yesterday as a warm up but the class did not seem to understand it that much. So, to me that means a do-over in order to master it.

Students were given a triple Venn Diagram and shapes to cut out to classify them accordingly.

Also, one of my awesome and wonderful parents pointed out an error on the math homework so I will correct it and inform the class tomorrow so they can copy it down. It too will be posted here tomorrow.

Also, the class went to Ms. Allen for social studies. I am writing this during specials so I have yet to know how they liked it and what they did. All I know is that they were to bring their social studies books and little else to class. I am looking forward to hearing about it.

In science, I hosted Ms. Allen's class for the first lesson. Due to our schedule on Monday in which students have back-to-back specials, there is no way to have science and social studies on that day. So we are forced to have it Tuesday through Friday. While it is true that the last 30 minutes of the day are not yet devoted to clubs (in a few weeks time), that time is allocated for clubs so that is out.

I introduced matter and energy with Ms. Allen's class and went over the five states of matter. Of course, they were quite familiar with solids, liquids, gasses, and plasma (the most common state of energy in the universe due to it being what stars are made up of). The one last phase was one they had never heard of - Bose-Einstein. That isn't an issue because though Bose and Einstein theorized its existence back in the 1920's, it was only in 1995 that is was proven to be true.

Bose-Einstein is a state of matter that only is found in extreme cold, near absolute zero. It is sort of an atomic "blob."

I talked about matter and how it is comprised of atoms. I asked the class if air has matter or not. The class agreed that it did and I proved it by inflating a balloon. By the balloon's inflation, it proved that air has matter. I then stuck a long needle through one end and out the other without popping it and explained that all things are comprised of matter and to prove it further, I explained that the air inside the balloon was escaping out. The class will find out tomorrow how I did this trick.

We also went over the one thing whose amount will determine matter's state or phase: energy. Adding or subtracting energy, the atoms in matter will either speed up their movement or slow down (but not completely stop). I posed this question to the class: does ice have heat? After a show of hands to state yes or no, I informed them that there really is no such thing as cold as far as physics is concerned. There is only the degree of heat so yes, ice does have heat in it but less than gas.

So, while it is one thing to talk about science it is another thing to actually DO IT. I gave them a brief assignment to write in their science journals: brief synopsis of what they observed; what they think happened (hypothesis), and whether or not their hypothesis was correct after I explained what happened.

The first experiment involved me doing something that I strongly encourage people to not do. I put some corn starch in my mouth, lit a blow torch, and a flame erupted. It is very crucial that one does not inhale the corn starch as it can cause lung damage or even death. I exhale before doing it.

What happened was the corn starch, the solid, passed through the flame of the blow torch which increased its energy. The increase in energy caused it to change from solid to gas.

The next experiment was this: I put liquid dish soap in a bowl and filled it with water. I then inverted a cheap Dollar Store aerosol body spray into the bowl and pressed down. I used the cheaper one due to its higher alcohol content. The body spray created more bubbles. I wet my other hand completely, scooped up the bubbles, and lit them. A brief flame erupted. In essence, the liquid's energy increased to the point where it had changed to a gas. Below are videos from when I did it before but it is the same idea.

No, my hand didn't actually burn but I did put the fire out as quickly as I could due to being concerned about setting off the fire alarm. The key is to make sure the hand is WET so it cannot burn. It doesn't hurt at all but I do feel the heat. Of course, I never have had it burn long enough to really find out. I either put out the fire or it runs out of fuel.

Thursday, September 26, 2013Today we went on our first field trip to the Children's Theater to see the theatrical production of Tarzan. It was a great experience and the students really enjoyed it. It was especially amusing when Tarzan and Jane kissed at the end and to hear all of the "eews" and "yucks" was priceless.

We did have some delay in waiting for the second bus to arrive. Ours made a series of thumping noises and it was quickly determined to not have come from a student. A mechanic was dispatched and he checked it out and thought it was the airbag mechanism that was sort of activated by the kids getting on the bus. All I know is that it was quickly resolved. So, after a considerable wait we were off!

Since we had to leave a little after ten, I did a longer read aloud. The problem was, I forgot to bring my copy of Farmer Boy so I began reading the Tripods book. However, thanks to one of my chaperones for her awesome help, I was able to get a copy. So, the class voted on which book for me to read: continue When the Tripods Came or Farmer Boy. The results: When the Tripods Came by a margin of 14-6. So, after this book I will allow the class to vote again on continuing the series or return to Farmer Boy. We shall see.

The author finally wrote a prequel back in 1988, which is the book that I am reading, to give the readers an idea of how the Earth was conquered despite our advanced military technology.

http://www.amazon.com/When-Tripods-Came-John-Christopher/dp/0689857624/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380218735&sr=1-1&keywords=when+the+tripods+came

When we returned from the field trip we had lunch in the classroom, I continued to read aloud, and then they went to specials.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013I brought up my inability to log in to Renaissance Place (STAR and AR) to Ms. Jones and she is going to have to reset my password. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I will be able to FINALLY get all of that taken care of. I tell you....sometimes getting the school year started is like trying to drive a six-cylinder car when only half of the spark plugs are firing.

## When the students came in, there was another activity in which they needed to convert a decimal number to a ternary number. I am still planning on doing that tomorrow and Friday but will be phasing it out next week to touch on other concepts. There was also an irregular figure in which they had to calculate its perimeter but the measures of two sides were undefined. So, that required a second step before even adding up the sides. This is not easy for some but we will continue on it.

In literacy, we continued with context clues and the Little House on the Prairie read-aloud. In fact, today I finished the book. I read the part where the natives were having a jamboree and Pa finally made it home from Independence with a plow, seeds, calico for another dress for Ma, crackers and pickles (a real treat for them!), and a black hard rubber comb for each of the girls.

Pa was plowing when he was interrupted by a prairie fire. They managed to save the homestead by plowing a furrow around the house and barn as a fire break. It worked. Though some of the settlers suspected that the natives deliberately burned the prairie to drive out the settlers, Pa didn't think so. He told them that they had a habit of burning the prairie in the early spring to make travel easier. Pa was in fact, very happy about it since it made plowing the fields so much easier.

The book ended in a sad and abrupt fashion. Pa was out planting crops only to be informed that soldiers had been dispatched to drive the settlers out. Apparently, they had settled three miles into Indian territory and the tribes had filed a complaint in Washington. Pa decided right then and there that they were leaving in the morning rather than wait to be driven out. Though Pa was cheerful, one can tell that he was also dejected having spent an entire year getting the house and the barn built, the well dug and the fields plowed - all for nothing. Laura knew it was for real when he gave the cow and calf to Mr. Scott, put the bows back on the wagon, and attached the canvas cover.

Now, in real life the Ingalls family moved back to Wisconsin for a few years before heading west again. In the books they move to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

However, I will be reading the next book in the series, Farmer Boy, which is about Laura's husband Almanzo growing up on a farm in upstate New York. It is one of my favorite books! The storyline takes a break from the Ingalls family and has a boy as the main character.

We also did some more context clues work, had writing, and independent reading.

In math, we focused on perimeter of irregular figures with missing measurements. I did provide each student with some centimeter graph paper but I have attached the file if you are interested.

In science, we continued with heat, states of matter, and energy. I tried to do an experiment with this substance called rheoscopic fluid but it didn't work. So, I used the lava lamp to demonstrate how heat causes atoms to move faster and away from each other. This makes matter less dense which is why hotter things rise. The lava lamp demonstrates convection currents where the wax rises to the top where it is cool enough for it to become more dense and sink to the bottom.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013I am still in the process of trying to get Star Reading scores and to set AR goals. Now, I can’t access the site. Sigh….rest assured that I have asked for help so I am still planning on sending the reports home in printed form on Friday along with the progress reports.

The class came in and had two warm-up problems that were challenging but doable; they just took a good bit of time. I was especially pleased overhearing students discussing it, trying various methods to solve it, sharing with me their own methods, and checking over their answers. Yes!!!!

In literacy, we continued with reading aloud Little House on the Prairie. It was the early spring and the weather was getting warmer. It was time for Pa to take his furs to Independence to get a plow and seeds for the homestead. While he was gone, the natives had a jamboree. Ma pulled the kids in the house, the dog, and locked the door. While this was going on, Pa had still not come home. A normal round trip takes four days and they were well into the fifth. Since there was no way of knowing what happened to Pa, they could only wait and hope for the best.

We had two visual literacy activities to interpret. The first one was a comic with a joke and the other was a picture from World War 1 of German soldiers in a trench holding up dead rats. Food was a problem and soldiers were often forced by sheer desperation to eat rats, since they were a nuisance anyway. The students had to infer why they would be forced to eat rats – yuck!

We also covered a new (or “newish”) reading skill called Context Clues. This is where one finds the meaning of a word, not by using the dictionary, but by seeing how it is used in the sentence and paragraph. Sometimes it is pretty straight forward and sometimes one has to put thought into it.

We then did a few examples on the Smart Board followed by a brief activity in which they had to read an excerpt from Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson and use context clues to figure out the meaning of some older words from the 1700’s and 1800’s along with British words.

Students then worked on their writing and had a chance to do some independent reading since they didn’t get as much time yesterday.

In math, we began with a review of converting a base10 number to base3. The other one involved two decimal addition problems and figuring out which sum had the greatest value and why (place value, of course!).

We then went over decimals and decimal place value and I included a brief segment on expanded form with decimals. Since we are transitioning into geometry but I still want to keep place value fresh, I am still reviewing the older stuff and expanding on it too. That is one thing I love about math: it is spiraling and everything builds upon simpler concepts.

After the class mastered that, or mostly did, we reviewed the different types of triangles (the four basic: scalene, isosceles, obtuse, right) and the quadrilaterals (and their properties): squares, rectangles, rhombuses, parallelograms, trapezoids. We will continue to review their properties including parallels and perpendiculars.

Lastly, we did a lesson on perimeter. The class knows now that perimeter is the sum of all sides (s1+s2….+sn). The lesson also included calculating the perimeter of a figure with an unknown side by using the known sides. To illustrate this and its value, I told the class a true story about my 7th grade math teacher.

This guy is/was (don’t know) a real character. He fought in the Vietnam War and was medically discharged due to a grenade exploding close enough to his head to cause full deafness in one ear and partial deafness in another. Since he couldn’t hear too well, he had this tendency to shout.

Philosophical digression: did you ever notice how often it happens where the people with the least ability to communicate with others end up teaching math??? Go figure!

Anyway, he was in the jungles of Vietnam fighting the Viet Kong and it evening was fast approaching. The officer in charge of his unit needed to establish a perimeter since the enemy liked to attack at night. He needed to know how large the rectangular perimeter was so that he could figure out how far to space his men around to guard the camp.

How does one calculate the perimeter? You measure with a tape measure. So, the first guy was ordered to find the perimeter. He crawled on his stomach across the first horizontal, crawled up the first vertical, and as he was crawling across the second parallel horizontal he was shot (don’t know his outcome).

The same thing happened to the second guy.

My future math teacher was smarter. He crawled along the first horizontal, measured, and then crawled up the vertical to measure. Once measured, he crawled back. Once he was in a safe spot, he added up the two sides and doubled the number to get the perimeter since it was a rectangle. Algebra saved his life.

In science, we began the unit on matter and energy. We went over the five states of matter. A lot of people think that there are only three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. In actuality, there are five with the addition of plasma (electrically charged gas) and Bose-Einstein, which is a sort of blob that only occurs near absolute zero (» -450°). To think of the other two in a different term: plasma is the result of heat and Bose-Einstein is the result of almost no heat. While Bose-Einstein was theorized back in the 1920’s, it was only in 1995 that it was actually proven to exist. Plasma is actually the most abundant substance in the universe.

There is a song from a band called They Might Be Giants where they sing, “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas.” That is not true! The sun is made of plasma since the temperature is so high that the electrons from the gas are ripped from the atoms and their protons are almost fused together.

We also went over the fact that there isn’t cold, only heat and heat is the energy and speed in which the atoms in matter vibrate. Increase or decrease the energy amount and the state can change.

Then, I did the finale. I am sure that your kids have already have told you but I will describe it nonetheless. I did a scientific demonstration in which I converted a liquid to a gas by adding a high amount of energy.

DO NOT DO THIS AT HOMEI filled a bowl full of water and squirted liquid dish soap into the second bowl. The bowl of water is merely for wetting my hand – a CRUCIAL thing in this demonstration. I then put on my lab coat and safety glasses. The next step was to wet my left hand and with my right hand invert a can of aerosol body spray (the cheap dollar store kind due to the high alcohol content). I pressed down the inverted can of body spray and it created a mound of large bubbles. Scooping the bubbles in my left hand (the wet one), I lit the bubbles and they burned without actually burning my hand. The only casualty was a few hairs on my wrist.

So, I turned liquid into a gas due to adding a high amount of energy. The class then wrote a one paragraph summary of what happened using the terminology presented.

Also, I have a .pdf of the Smart Board presentation with all of the work if you are interested.

Monday, September 23, 2013## I am going to keep this one short due to the lack of time. But, I will be posting the Smart Board presentation online if you wish to download it.

## In literacy, we continued with Little House on the Prairie. Christmas was over and now the dreary winter was long and monotonous. All of that changed when the family was awakened by a loud scream that sounded like a woman's. Immediately, they thought that Mr. and Mrs. Scott were in danger since that is where the sound came from. Pa immediately got up, got dressed, grabbed his lantern and gun, and headed off to investigate.

## He was gone a long time when all of a sudden he was pounding on the door to be let in. It turns out that no woman was screaming but it was a panther instead. So, the girls could not leave the house until he had shot it. Fortunately, Pa had an encounter with a member of the local tribe who, through the use of sign language, indicated that he had shot the panther.

## In math, we switched for one day. Ms. Allen did decimals and I did base 3 notation with her class. The only complaint I have is that it was too short. I hope to do it again but it won't be soon.

Friday, September 20, 2013Friday! It is such a glorious day for us all but here, teachers are permitted to wear jeans (yay!) and t-shirts (as long as they are appropriate, of course – bigger yay!). Today also marks the day where I am wearing the last of my geek shirts until I manage to get a few more. I always enjoy the looks on people’s faces when they see it and I really enjoy having the kids trying to figure it out. My wife got it for me last year on my birthday from Thinkgeek.com. Below are two different versions of the same concept. Parents, see if you can discern the meaning.

There was a nice challenging warm-up. Today we used a lot of slides on the Smart Board so it is far easier for me to just export it to pdf and post it for you to view if you wish.

I literacy we did a lot today. I continued with Little House on the Prairie in which Pa has gone on a four day journey to Independence, which is the nearest town and it is 40 miles one way. While gone, the family felt uneasy and the dog Jack was especially on edge. This was evident when Mr. Edwards came by around chore time to help out and was cornered on the top of the wood pile.

Pa did eventually return home and he was COLD. It rained on the way to Independence and on the way back they were traveling against this bitter cold wind. To make matters far worse, the wheels on the wagon would cake up with mud and make it impossible to move unless Pa got out and cleaned the mud out. After what seemed like just getting back on the wagon, he had to stop and do it all over again.

Plus, the natives were camping along the creek and Pa found out that he built his house right next to a trail that is used a lot. Oops! Where we ended was one of my favorite parts: Mr. Edwards was invited to spend Christmas with them but due to the heavy rain the creek was flooded and it was too dangerous to cross. The girls figured that there was no way that Santa could make it so they resigned themselves to a Christmas Day without gifts.

However, they were awakened by a shivering cold Mr. Edwards who took his clothes off to swim the creek. Not only that, but he said that he walked to Independence and back, met Santa, and agreed to deliver the girls’ Christmas presents.

What did they get for Christmas? They each received a shiny new tin cup so they didn’t have to share a cup to drink out of (yuck!); a peppermint candy stick, a heart-shaped cake, and a shiny new penny. I always get a laugh every time I read aloud this part due to the reaction of the students.

We also did visual literacy, the spelling test, and an in-class assignment. The in-class assignment was challenging for the class because it was five pages in length but it was an article about why we should adopt a base12 counting system rather than the base10 that we have now (dozenal vs. decimal).

After reading the article, they had to discern its main idea in one sentence, summarize in four or fewer sentences. Lastly, they had to choose whether or not they agreed with the article. Once they made their decision, they had to justify it by explaining why or why not and cite examples from the actual text. I bet few agreed. I did notice that citing textual examples is a weak area that needs to be addressed so I will have to model it to give the class an idea of what will be required of them in the years to come since this is a part of the Common Core: not only finding the correct answer but explaining why.

We also did the spelling test.

In math, we continued with base3 (ternary or tertiary) numbers. They are doing a great job with it and we are now transitioning to geometry. I gave them a brief overview of the different types of triangles and quadrilaterals along with Miller’s Geometric Double Standards (“All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares”, etc). After that, they used technology to access my wiki page (Launch) and go to this geometry site that was interactive. Once math was over, they were allowed to go to the science section. Nice!

Lastly, I am assigning next week’s homework today and it is due Friday. The task is a project in which they will create their own system of numeration. It can’t be base 2, 3, 10, or 16 (hexadecimal), 20 (Mayans did it first), or 60 (ancient Babylonians. It can be any other base system. They need to design their own symbols , names of the numbers, and come up with some problems and solutions. Be creative!

Thursday, September 19, 2013The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once stated that everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux, to be paraphrased. The same holds with teaching. Things change and those who know me, know that this is especially true with me. To give you an idea of how my strange mind works, think of it in these terms: everything is until it is not; it is until it isn’t.

What does that mean in this context? It means that I make plans and I do my best to have them as well thought-out as possible. However, when I get a spontaneous idea then those well laid plans of mice and men are discarded. The mind of Mr. Miller is but a fickle beast.

What it means for your child is that Ms. Allen and I will be teaching each other’s math class on Monday. We were having a conversation this morning comparing where we are at in math and whether or not she covered base three numeration as taught in the M³ book. She didn’t as of yet and since I have been putting a lot of time and thought into this (ie. Teaching myself to think in a totally different way) I will do base three on Monday while Ms. Allen will be teaching your child something challenging too. When I find out what it is, I will definitely let you know. This will also give us an opportunity to begin getting to know the students. While we will be switching for science and social studies every other week, the switching of math (and possibly literacy) will be less often. But, I am excited by this since every teacher is different and has a different style so we feel that this will benefit the students to be exposed to this. It is also a good way to acclimate to the switching of classes when they are older.

The class began with a warm-up reviewing base three numbers and then a multi-step special problem. One student managed to solve the second one.

In literacy, I continued with Little House on the Prairie with the Pa getting hired by cowboys to help keep a herd of cattle out of the ravines in exchange for a slab of beef. After the second day, Pa did indeed come home with a slab of beef along with a surprise: a heifer and her calf. The heifer was too thin to sell once they reached Fort Dodge and they weren’t going to sell the calf either so the Ingalls family ended up with some cattle. The only problem is that the cow is not tamed so she had to be penned up in order to be milked.

Where we ended was that Ingalls family getting dreadfully sick. One minute they could be burning hot, the next minute freezing cold despite the late summer heat and even the fire in the fire place. Their bodies ached to the bone and they suffered delirium. The read-aloud ended with Laura having a stranger getting her to drink this bitter medicine. The people at the time didn’t know what it was and some attributed it to eating watermelons when in reality it was malaria caused by mosquito bites.

The class continued working on their mini project which is some sort of visual summary of Beauty and the Beast.

There was also an in-class assignment where they read a news article about British scientists theorizing that they discovered extra-terrestrial life high in our stratosphere that were brought here by meteors.

The task was to determine the main idea of the article and write a summary. The challenge, however, was that the summary was limited to four sentences maximum.

In math, we continued with base three numeration in terms of converting a base ten number (“normal”) number to base three. The students were each given a graphic organizer in a sheet protector to help them work out the problems. They also took a grade level place value quiz and then were able to work on their projects.

In social studies, we continued with communities.

Due to the time constraints today, I do not have graphics but I do have the presentation in pdf format if you wish to view it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013Last night’s Curriculum Night was a success. Thank you to all of the parents who came by. If you couldn’t make it due to whatever circumstances, I totally understand. I did post a pdf of last night’s presentation on the wiki page’s home page so you can view it if you wish.

The class began with a challenging warm-up that was similar to others in the sense that spatial awareness was needed for the problem solving. Plus, I have to admit that it is a lot of fun to create the graphics for this though I am limited to Power Point since my little laptop can’t handle the demands of Corel Draw. Oh well.

In literacy, I continued with reading aloud Little House on the Prairie. Pa returned home and the girls told him about the visit from the two natives. When Laura admitted that she considered letting the dog Jack loose despite being told not to, Pa was very stern. He made it clear that the last thing he wanted was trouble with the natives.

Afterwards, things seemed to start out boring in the next chapter with Pa digging a well. That was the final large-scale project that he wanted to complete before he made the 40 mile (one way) trip to Independence, which was the nearest town. After digging down as far as he could, he knew he needed help so he enlisted the assistance from a neighbor named Mr. Scott. Each day Pa insisted on sending a lit candle down the ever-deepening hole due to the prevalence of dangerous gasses. One morning, Scott assured Pa that everything was fine. Pa assumed that it was and Mr. Scott went down the hole to dig while Pa stayed above ground to empty buckets of dirt brought up. Soon, Pa yelled out that Mr. Scott passed out from breathing the noxious fumes. After rescuing him, Pa exploded a packet of gun powder which brought the bad gas up to the surface. That is definitely a lesson well-learned!

We also did a visual literacy activity:

Then, we discussed main idea, supporting details (somewhat), sequence, summary, and how all of them are related.

Then I assigned the class another mini-project. They already ready Beauty and the Beast in their Imagine It books. Now, the task is to create a poster with a depiction or illustration of main point of the story without using text other than the title. The idea is for someone who is unfamiliar with the story to be able to get a good idea of what it is about (plot) without it being given away. In other words, spoiler-free is the way to be!

Afterwards, and no they didn’t finish this, we reviewed the writing process and had the students come up with their own fictional story. They could choose any sub genre of fiction, or even a combination as long as it was made up. Once they get started, I will be able to conference with the students. Also, I will be doing mini lessons on various aspects of the writer’s craft so their stories will be open to many revisions and editings.

In math, I gave them another spatial problem solving activity. This one was tougher than the one this morning.

I also touched on square roots meaning that what is within the square root symbol (radical) means: “What number to the second power?” It is likely that square and cube roots may be covered later on in the year once I am confident that my students – all of them, have first mastered the third grade content and have managed to go deeper. I want to be sure that everything required has been covered and mastered before going this route.

So, base three…..with the decimal, or base ten system, the largest number that can go in a single place is 9. In other words, nine ones can go in the ones place. If one more one was added, there would then be one in the tens place (one ten) and then zero in the ones place.

With base three, two is the maximum number that can be in any place. One counts in base three this way: 1,2,10,11,12,.20,21 and so on. There can’t be a number 3 in base three. Look at it below:

We only touched on base three today with the rudimentary aspects of it. However, the class seemed to understand it a lot faster than anticipated. So, after a few examples I had them continue working on their mini project.

I did add a base converter tool to my wiki page and app if anyone is interested in exploring this further.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013Today's will be short due to preparing for tonight's Curriculum Night.

The day began with a challenging warm-up activity:

In literacy, we continued with the reading of Little House on the Prairie. This part was devoted to Pa getting around to the incredibly hard work of cutting down trees, splitting them along the grain into boards, and making a roof. Then, he did the same with making a floor. They also finally got to meet some of the natives when two warriors came into the house. Ma made them cornbread and fed them and then they left. The big problem was that before leaving, he told the girls in no uncertain terms to NOT let the dog, Jack, loose. Laura was seriously considering it. Stay tuned.

We also did a visual literacy warm-up.

In math, I gave them their first mini-project. Since we have been covering place value and numeration, I decided that it really served no purpose in doing more arranging numbers to get the largest possible value. So, their project involved them pretending that they were going to teach a student who could be from grades 3 to 9 how to arrange numbers and get maximum value. They have a wide variety of options (is there any other way?) to express themselves and to design the lesson. Some are doing comic strips. Some are doing poems, songs, raps, etc. One group is even doing a 3D model. Like all projects, I keep the rules to a bare minimum so I can kick back and watch the creativity roll in.

I also assigned the first weekly assignment. This was tough for me in terms of coming up with stuff that will be challenging. I hope I was successful. That is one thing about Talent Development: there is a much greater emphasis on problem solving and project-based learning. It's just the way I like it!

Lastly, there is going to be a change when it comes to science and social studies. After discussing it with Ms. Range, who gave her approval, Ms. Allen and I will be teaming up for this. Since science is my strength and social studies is hers, our students will be switching classes just like older kids in middle and high school.

I will be teaching science and she will be teaching social studies. Yet, the schedule will be the same in terms of students getting science one week and social studies the other. The only thing that really changes are the teachers. This will start the following week. Next week is my class' turn for science so we will do that. Next week, they will go to Ms. Allen for social studies while her class comes to me for science. The week after that, my class stays with me and Ms. Allen's stays with her. We will switch every other week. We feel that the students will benefit best when teachers' strengths are applied AND, it is one less subject to plan for.

Monday, September 16, 2013Today was another one of those odd days where the schedule was not normal. It was also the second (and last!) days of MAP testing in the computer lab. Friday’s test assessed reading comprehension while today’s test focused on math and math reasoning. While it does get tedious with all of this testing, it is nice to have data so I have a better understanding of where they are at and where I can meet them. With that, I had to abbreviate each subject period in order to get them all in. The daily schedule is truly a zero-sum game. If I spend more time doing

a, I must therefore have less time doingb; for there to be a “winner”, there must therefore be a “loser.” I am not a fan of that one so I wanted to make sure everything got covered today.We began the day with just one logic problem solving activity since a lot of space is required to get all of the relevant information in one place. It isn’t “hard” as much as it requires reading carefully and using the process of elimination to solve it. All of the information needed is provided but one still has to think.

In literacy, we continued with Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin has been completed in the sense that they have solid walls. The roof is the canvas wagon cover tied down over the rafters. The “door” is a quilt over the doorway. That presents a real problem since wolf packs are around and one night they had the house surrounded. At least the horses had a barn to keep them safe. Today’s reading was about how Laura helped Pa make a real wooden door and have something solid to keep the wolves out rather than the illusion of safety. What makes it interesting is how it ties in the idea of prioritizing that I have been covering.

First, the cabin was built. Then, they built a barn. Next, the door was built. Now, once Pa helps Mr. Edwards get his cabin built, the project will be a fireplace with a chimney so Ma can cook indoors. Eventually, a well gets dug.

We also did a visual literacy activity which required a little more thinking than prior ones. Again, what I like about doing this is that is requires the students to use higher level thinking skills such as inference and drawing conclusions in order to understand the humor.

Since the students enjoy it, I still give them the option of putting on their 3D glasses. Sometimes the image really seems to pop out, other times it doesn’t. It is one of those add-on features that I found with the Firefox browser.

We also introduced the next story in Imagine It, Beauty and the Beast and we continued with the Daily Five intro lessons.

Lastly, we went over the science test.

Since math was cut short due to MAP testing (at least it was math today), I focused again on logic, reasoning, critical thinking, and using them to solve problems. The students are given the choice of working together or separately; working them out mentally or using conceptual and/or concrete models. After a time limit, which can be flexible if a particular problem is more challenging than anticipated, we discuss our findings and how we arrived at them. The one thing I will be emphasizing over the course of the school year is that there is usually more than one way to solve a problem. Below are the problems with the solutions worked out.

We then did some more problem solving that used Venn Diagrams and/or logic:

I am hoping that we can do the Bring Your Own Technology thing on Wednesday.

Curriculum Night is tomorrow night from 6:00-8:00. Ms. Allen and I will both be doing it together in my room. I hope to see you there.

Lastly, the final day for me to collect money for the field trip is this Thursday. I can only accept cash in the exact amount or a money order. If you are going to have any difficulties, please email me as soon as possible and I can work something out.

Friday, September 13 2013## Today was another day where the schedule was different. I had a full literacy block but math was shortened due to the MAP testing in reading. Students will take the math test on Monday.

## Today was not a very good day in terms of behavior choices. The class as a whole was very talkative and did not do very well in following instructions. Hopefully Monday will be better.

## Below is the warm-up as they came in with the answers below:

## I began with two read-alouds rather than just one today. The first was the continuation of Little House on the Prairie. We began where the Ingalls family was introduced to Mr. Edwards, who helped Pa build up the walls of the cabin in just a single day as well as making the framing of the roof. The session ended where Mr. Edwards was singing on his way home and Pa was playing the fiddle.

## The second book was called The Name Jar and it is about a Korean girl who just moved to our country and feels uncomfortable with her name due to students making fun of her.

## We then did a brief mini lesson on Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast two and three different things. The activity involved students grouping up together and creating a double Venn Diagram to compare and contrast this story with Good-bye 382 Shin Dang Dong in their Imagine It book. The examples in the Venn Diagrams were of actual students but I blotted them out for this to maintain privacy.