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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This is it! At long last we have reached the 180th and final academic day of the school year. Though I really have nothing much to report on this last What We Did Today entry, I still wanted to do it since I started it at the beginning of the year and I wanted to see it through to its completion. I am happy to say that I have done so!

It has been a long and crazy year with so many changes throughout, especially in literacy. But, we persevered and managed to make it to the end and for that I am grateful. It is with great pleasure that I have seen your child grow from a just-out-2nd-grader to an almost 4th grader. While all of us look forward to the last day of school (especially teachers!) it is also a day that I dread since it means having to say goodbye. This is especially more difficult for me because I will not be here in August when your child returns. While I wouldn’t have seen your child much anyway, it is still a big goodbye. Also, it is difficult for me to say goodbye to you parents too!

Parents: thank you very much for all of your support, gifts, kind words, and for the partnership that we had in helping your child grow during this year. I really couldn’t have done it without you and I cherish the relationship that we have since it made such a difference with both your child and with me.

So, what DID we do today since that is the title of this page? There was no morning warm up so the students were able to draw to their hearts’ content. We straightened up the room, cleaned up, and watched movies after being outside for an extended time.

Though I will not be returning to Barringer in August, my email address will remain the same so you are welcome to contact me anytime. CMS asks its teachers to check their email during the summer at least once a week but I check mine constantly. The only time that I may not respond quickly is towards the end of next month when I will be out of town but otherwise I will respond as quickly as I can.
The mobile app will undergo some changes but it will still be online and supported. I will delete the contents of What We Did Today (mobile version) right before the first day of school in August. I am going to keep it up for the new parents so they can get an idea of what to expect.

The wiki page is another matter. I am at this time debating whether or not to keep it as is, scrap it and create a new one, or do a new webpage using a different format such as Weebly. We shall see. If all of this changes and you are interested in checking out what I am doing, the current wiki page will have a link to the new one should this happen.

I wish that I had more to say and amazingly profound words of wisdom to impart but I really don’t. At this point, I am like a vehicle that is coming to a shuddering stop after using up the last drop of fuel.
So, with that I end the What We Did Today blog for the 2013-2014 school year. May the years ahead be fulfilling in every way!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Here we go! We have entered the final “week” of the school year – more like: the final two days of school. The final warm up activity had to change due to the lack of time. It still involved coordinates on a grid but not as complex as what I had originally intended to assign.
I have continued packing up things and getting the room ready for the post school year clean up. I am still getting odds and ends packed away and it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff I accumulate. My wife always bemoans the loss of an entire side of the garage too since the stuff has to go somewhere. I am really hoping that the new school will be ready and available for us to move in soon rather than the usual mad rush in August. But, that is neither here nor there.

Tomorrow will mark not only the final day of the school year for the students but will also mark the final entry for What We Did Today. The reasons are:

- There is no more “we” in What We Did Today
- I highly doubt any parents will be reading this after tomorrow anyway
- I won’t have the time
- There is nothing interesting to write about unless you find reading about getting stuff turned in, signed in, signed out, paperwork filled in, filled out, filled up, etc to be highly entertaining. Yeah, I didn’t think so either ha ha ha

After lunch we did some more reading aloud and then I had the class empty their desks and throw away/recycle all of the garbage that has accumulated in the short period of time since the last clean up. It never ceases to amaze me how nasty their desks get in such a small amount of time.
Then, I showed the remainder of Surf’s Up before putting in Finding Nemo.

As tomorrow will be the final day of school, I want to remind everyone that anything left behind will be given away/thrown away/recycled if not picked up by the end of the day on Thursday. I am leaving around 11:15 on Thursday to tour my new school but I will leave my room unlocked.

On Wednesday, I will be very busy getting everything turned in and other last minute things that need to be done.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy final Friday of the school year! Today also marked the final “normal” math warm-up and I made it a bit daunting to keep them focused. It wasn’t necessarily hard but it did require a lot of steps to solve and no calculators were used. I am putting the calculators away to turn them in as part of the annual end-of-year rush.

I have been slowly packing up my things and taking them home and I am now at the stage that I call Packing Fatigue. Packing Fatigue, or Packing Burnout, is the state of emotional and mental exhaustion involved with packing away materials and trying to be as efficient as possible in use of space. Basically, I am just shoving stuff into boxes without much thought with the desire to just be done with it and worry about it in August.

Due to some make up testing for a few third graders, this last day of specials was another switch with first grade at the end of the day. As I mentioned yesterday, there will be no specials next week.

Also, after lunch we reviewed the math assignment and then it was time for the end of year class party. While the party was going on, I showed the movie “Surf’s Up.” After that, it was the ICMM dance and then the computer lab.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Yesterday was the last Wednesday of the year and today is the last Thursday of the year. It will also be the last almost-fully academic year. Don’t forget that tomorrow is the party at 1:30-2:50.

The math warm-up for today was pretty challenging so it was calculator active since it involved a lot of exponents such as numbers to the 4th and 5th powers. While there will be more free time later on in the day, I want to start off the day with something that makes them think.

At 10:00 we headed upstairs to Ms. Wood’s room to watch a mock trial based on the story Hansel and Gretel. The witch was on trial for attempted murder and other charges and students representing the prosecution presented evidence while the lawyer attempted to convince the rest of the class (the jury) of her innocence. One student was the judge and three were witnesses. Of course, the jury returned a guilty verdict for the witch. I thought it was a neat idea.

In math we continued with probability which is great since it reinforces knowledge of fractions, multiplication, greatest common factor, etc.

After that, we had specials (media center) since Field Days are over with. The nice thing is that tomorrow too we will have specials (computer lab). Tomorrow will be the final specials class of the year. On Monday and Tuesday the specials teachers will be relieving regular classroom teachers throughout the day to give us needed breaks.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, Monday will have the final morning work activity. This one will be much different from the ones throughout the year and will involve coordinates (a LOT of them!) and following instructions. It is an activity that I have wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t due to testing. Now that testing is over with, I am free to do this so do this we shall!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Today we had the Kindergartners and first graders have their field day so once more our schedule was not normal. I gave them a pretty challenging warm-up and it really focused their attention. There will be three more math warm-ups after today since I am not planning on doing one on the last day of school. I have already finished tomorrow’s and it is almost entirely (almost) focused on probability with the exception of the last problem that involves strategy and addition with a retro video game theme.

Since the little kids were outside during our recess time, we went to lunch early and ate in the classroom. After that, we went outside until 1:25 where the 2nd and 3rd graders got to watch a movie in the gym while I had some time to myself to do some work (such as tomorrow’s warm-up).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A week from today is the last day of school while today is Field Day. With that on the schedule, there was no way that I was going to be able to have a math warm-up. I will save that for tomorrow, which I expect to be more academic in focus. Instead, I created a word search to keep them occupied until 10:00.

Field Day was from 10:10 to 12:50. After that we returned to the classroom, cleaned up, gathered any lunches, and went to the cafeteria until about 1:30. After lunch, we returned to the classroom where the students had time to do the word searches and/or read quietly. After that, we watched Curious George until dismissal.

Tomorrow is Field Day for K-1 and I am going to continue with math and literacy while I can. Perhaps I am very uptight about this but I just don’t like spending the last two weeks of school watching movies, playing, etc. While school is in session I still want learning to be taking place as the schedule permits. So I am planning on tomorrow and Thursday being more learning focused along with Friday morning. The party is at 1:30 and will last until about 2:50 for the ICMM dance.

Test scores are going out Thursday with any other forms, handouts, flyers, etc that go home with students.

Students need to bring their plants home this week.

Reminders: students need to take everything home before they leave for the summer. While I will be designating times to clean out desks (it is AMAZING how quickly some of them are already a wreck inside after cleaning up last week!) students who leave anything here after the last day of school will have until the end of the day on Thursday, June 12th. I cannot come in on Friday since that is Donuts for Dads at my daughter’s daycare and I have already made the commitment to go. So, anything that is left behind by the end of the day on Thursday will be recycled, thrown out, given away, etc. as is appropriate. I should be all packed up and moved out by that time too since I will be moving to another school. Of course, I have been packing up my stuff slowly but surely to make the most of each box but as I get closer to the end it will turn into “throw everything into boxes and get it out of here!”

I am sure that the following week (June 16th) will begin the summer clean up where custodians will go in, room by room, and remove all of the furniture to wax the floors.

Monday, June 2, 2014

We have officially entered the time of “lasts.” This is the last month of the school year. This is the last full week of the school year and it only goes on from there. Soon, it will be the last Wednesday of the year and so on and so forth. You get the idea.

However, I am happy to say that while the schedule upside down due to field day, this isn’t the last instructional day. No way! They came in this morning to quite a hefty warm-up. It required calculating the area of a circle based on the formula πr² but I did have them use only 3.14 for pi to make things simpler so the actual area is an approximation. There was also a nice big graph to create. There is nothing that says “The school year isn’t over yet!” like an intense warm-up assignment to start off the day.

In literacy, I continued reading aloud Holes and gave the students a writing assignment. This is a letter to next year’s students who are going to be in my class next year. Since I will be teaching 4th grade at Palisades Park, I had to change it to make it more generic instead of “Dear Third Grader.” This is to give next year’s students an idea of what to expect and how to have a good (or better, in some cases) year.

In math, we continued with multiplying fractions and using it for compound probabilities. For example, if a container had seven red marbles and three blue, the probability of getting a red is seven out of ten, or 7/10. That’s easy and your child can do it without even thinking about it.

Now, this is what we learned today: what is the probability of reaching into the container and pulling out a red marble, keeping it, and then reaching in and getting another red marble? That is where multiplying fractions come in.

Compound Probability.png

It is also referred to as compound events. What we are doing is compound independent events since there is no way to control the outcome. An example of an independent event that is used a lot in these exercises is the rolling of a die.

Since there weren’t any specials classes today due to field day, I had them relax and draw.
Tomorrow is field day for grades 2 and 3. I repeatedly told the class today that if they are making poor behavior choices, if I cannot trust them to behave, they will not participate in field day tomorrow. I know that one week from tomorrow is the last day of the year but they still have to follow the rules and conduct themselves in a proper manner.

Lastly, since next week is consisting of all of two days, there is the possibility that some students are not going to be in school on either or both Monday and/or Tuesday. If your child is going to be absent please let me know so I can plan accordingly.

I am not totally certain as to Monday’s schedule but on Tuesday, we will watch a movie in the morning, clean up the room, have extended recess, lunch, and do anything else that needs to be done.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Today we had one last and final day of testing. This was for make-ups and such and only marginally affected my class. We had to be quiet in the hallways and used the restroom in the K-1 hallways and had to switch specials with first grade again (at the end of the day, which I enjoy) but that was the extent of it.

I am going to continue to do this blog each day until the very last day of school. I know that there isn’t as much to write about but since I started it on the very first day of school and wrote entries for virtually the entire year (with a few gaps here and there) I wanted to go all the way to the end.

Next week is the last full week of the school year. Monday will be a regular day but Tuesday is our field day and Friday is our class party. I am still going to be doing academic work next week but there will be more time for drawing. I am still holding off on movies since there are still seven days left. I might be doing one after field day so we shall see.

In addition, I am going to be sending home your child’s EOG scores.
The warm-up had them do a lot of converting from fractions to decimals and do multiple steps to solve it and fill in a chart.

We continued reading Holes too.

In math, we had continued with multiplying fractions and covered dividing fractions before doing a problem solving activity.

After that, my class went to Ms. Allen’s class to hear Ms. Woods talk about 4th grade TD and what to expect.

Following the 4th grade orientation we returned to class for some independent reading before packing up and heading to the computer lab for the rest of the day.

Lastly, the class party is one week from today. I have sent out an email asking people to see what they can bring.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Today almost all of the testing has finished. The only testing tomorrow is for students who were absent during the regular testing sessions. So, that means that we will have specials tomorrow!

The warm-up continues to try to challenge them to think as they come in.

In literacy, I read aloud Holes. Afterwards, we did two more activities.

The first activity was a continuation from yesterday where they filled out a graphic organizer to evaluate and decide what different decision a character should have made in any of the books that were read aloud. Then, they had to speculate and predict what the result of that choice would most likely have been.

The next activity continued along the speculative lines with choosing any tw characters (fiction and/or nonfiction) from any two books, briefly list the characteristics of both, and then speculate on how they would interact with each other in either story.

Thursday Literacy Graphic Organizer.png

In math, we continued with multiplying fractions but this time there were no worksheets. The students were grouped in twos or fours and each group was given three ten-sided dice. They were to roll the dice to come up with a whole number and a fraction to multiply.
Lastly, the following problem solving activity was done:
A baker is planning on baking 25 pies. Each pie requires 3/4 cup of butter. It is estimated that it will cost $0.55 for each cup of butter. How much will have to be spent on butter for the entire batch of pies?

Thursday Math Closure Answer.png

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

While the 4th and 5th graders continued with testing upstairs, we resumed instruction since there is still plenty of time left on the calendar. For us, testing is over with and I can get back to teaching, so no movies! The last thing I want to be asked is, “What movie are we going to watch today?”

The only differences are that we have to be as quiet as possible in the hallways and the lunches from the cafeteria are bagged in order to get as many kids through the line in as short a time as possible. Things should be completely back to normal (or as close as can be at this time of year) on Friday.
With that in mind, the class returned to the daily warm-up. Today’s warm-up was more oriented towards 4th grade with it being based on some of the released test questions for that grade. Since I abhor using other people’s stuff and adore creating my own, I changed it around a bit.

In literacy, we finished reading Running Out of Time by the time it was recess. Before that, I read aloud some more of the story then introduced the class to one of the two new graphic organizers that I have created for literacy.
The first one is based on the Interpretation of Data model but modified by myself. We analyze the events that led up to where we left off in the reading, the situation (the facts – what we know), the likely outcome, and how it will all likely come together. It takes different levels of thinking from recalling facts, to higher levels such as synthesizing and analyzing information along with making predictions.
This activity was done as a whole class and below is a screen capture from the Smart Board:
Wednesday Literacy Graphic Organizer 1.png
The other activity was to use the second of the two new graphic organizers that I have created. This one was from the book, The Upstairs Room. This organizer takes a given situation in the story and has the student list the facts or events surrounding (or leading up to) the situation. Then, they list what happened as a result. It takes thinking skills such as knowledge and recalling facts and details, sequence, and the relationship between cause and effect. The additional part to this requires the highest levels of thinking: evaluation. The students had to determine what better choice could have been made and then predict the likely outcome based on what is known. You could even argue that inference/drawing conclusions is added to this.
Below is the screen capture from the Smart Board:

Wednesday Literacy Graphic Organizer 2.png
The independent activity involved students choosing a book that was read aloud over the course of the year and do the activity on their own graphic organizer as modeled on the Smart Board.
In math, we did multiplying fractions by whole numbers. An example problem would be 2/3 x 9. In other words, what is 2/3 of 9? The first step is to covert the whole number 9 into a fraction by making it 9/1. Why this? The fraction bar means division. 2/3 is 2÷3. 9/1 means 9÷1, which is the number 9. That is why. So, the rule for multiplying fractions is to multiply the numerators by the denominators. You have 2/3 x 9/1, 2x9=18, 3x1 is 3. This results in 18/3. Now, 18/3 is an improper fraction so you divide 18 by 3 to get 6. 2/3 of 9 is 6.
Wednesday Math Graphic 1.png
Here is another way of looking at 2/3 x 9 or 2/3 of 9:
Wednesday Math Graphic 2.png
After some examples the students were given independent work to self-check at the black light station.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Today the math tests were administered. Unlike years prior to this where math was conducted over a two day period (one with calculators and one without), this test was only one day in duration. The students took the calculator-inactive test first and then they were given a calculator for the rest of the test. To prevent students from going back and using the calculator in the first section, the test booklet was paper clipped.

After that, we had recess and lunch.

In the afternoon, the students watched The Lion King to unwind from all of this testing.

Since testing is in session, there are no specials for today through Thursday which is another reason for watching a movie.

Tomorrow the 4th and 5th grades will be testing but 3rd grade is finished with the exception of those who happened to be absent. Despite the testing being in progress, I expect Wednesday to be a normal instructional day. There will be a warm-up for math and the literacy will be resuming too.
Lastly, a letter was sent home today with your child but below is the text:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dear Parents:

Today I announced to my class that I will not be returning to Barringer Academic Center next year. I have accepted a transfer to the new Palisades Park Elementary school that is in the final stages of construction and due to be ready in July. It is the school where my daughter, Alivia, will be attending when she begins kindergarten next year.

While this may be a surprise to many people, I want to stress that my time here at Barringer has been wonderful and this year will go down as one of my best and most memorable. Not only did I enjoy each and every one of my unique students, I have enjoyed the relationship with their parents too!

My reasons for leaving for another school in CMS are practical in nature. Palisades Park is less than three miles from my house and I will be teaching in the school that Alivia will be attending. It is also a STEM magnet school with a strong emphasis on science and engineering - right up my alley, so-to speak. The short commute will save me a lot in gas and wear-and-tear on my car.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this school year! I have learned so much from my students and though it was my first year in teaching a strictly academically gifted class, it is my greatest hope that I have made a difference with each of my students! I know that they have made a difference with me.

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your kindness and support during this year. It is not easy to come in to a new program and your feedback, suggestions, and support made my time here much easier.

I did stress to the class that while I will not be returning this August, I am still here for the duration of the school year and that I am not leaving them. I felt that it was best to wait until testing is over with until making the announcement in order to minimize any distractions.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Here we go!!! Today the students took the READY Test in English Language Arts. Testing officially began around 9:50 and ended a little after 11:00. After that we went outside for a little extra recess before lunch at our normal time.

Since this was a testing day, there was no warm up work of any kind.

In the afternoon, we did a brief math review and then the class went to specials at the end of the day since we switched with 1st grade. Before specials, I gave the class some free time to unwind.

When we return on Tuesday, we will have the math test.

Have a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

That’s it for reading comprehension review! Today we reviewed drawing conclusions and recalling facts plus main idea. We also reviewed good testing strategies. Tomorrow they are on their own and that will be that. I have mixed feelings about this. I mean, I am relieved since there is nothing else left to prepare for and afterwards we will be doing real literacy instead of test prep!

On the other hand, I am dreading the testing since it takes three hours.

We had the final warm-up for math this morning since there will be no morning work either tomorrow or Tuesday. Of course, we will still be reviewing math in the afternoon tomorrow.

Tuesday afternoon will be more relaxing since they will have been testing for two days.

This blog will still have entries on the days of testing but I expect them to be pretty short. Wednesday, May 28th will be closer to normal. I use the word “closer” since the 4th and 5th graders will be testing. Thursday the 29th will still be near-normal since the 5th grade will have their long (72 questions) science test and there will be make-up testing for any students who happened to be absent.

We reviewed math some more with a rounded approach that covered as much as possible.

Last thoughts on tomorrow’s test:

Read all of the texts carefully, even more than once if need be.
Read each question and answer choice carefully
Choose the best answer after eliminating the others
Take your time!
Look back over your answers.
Bubble in neatly and erase any stray marks
Don’t bend the answer sheet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Today we did the final reading passage of the year. Tomorrow I am planning on doing some other comprehension activities but passages are out since there will be plenty on Friday.

The warm-up was more of the review only they had to construct an equation to explain how to solve a problem. There was also a problem where they had to calculate but also make a suggestion.

We finished the book, One Came Home and the class voted on the next read-aloud. Of the choices, the winner by a narrow margin was Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix, who was the author of the Shadow Children series. The runner up was Holes.

In math, we continued to review.

Everyone should have received a blue colored handout for Friday explaining how students need to get a good breakfast and proper rest along with not bringing a book bag nor electronic device.
Friday’s schedule will be that testing will commence in the morning followed by lunch and then going outside. I am planning on having my class outside for an extended time since they will have been sitting for a long period. In the afternoon, we will do some final math review before going to specials at the end of the day. For that day only, we will switch our specials time with the 1st grade. This is because third grade is the only grade testing Friday. There will be no specials on Tuesday-Thursday of next week.

Tuesday’s schedule will be testing in the morning, lunch, extended recess, and then allow them to do some sort of arts and crafts or other engaging activity that isn't taxing.

There will be no warm-ups during the two days of testing but this blog will continue to have entries up to the final day of school though I can see each entry being short since we will not be going full blast anymore.

Warm-up work will resume on Wednesday of next week and we will focus on multiplying fractions and then hit compound probability.

Lastly, I am going to have the class clean out their desks tomorrow in the sense of recycling papers, throwing out garbage, and putting everything else inside neatly. I decided to do this tomorrow rather than wait since desks are going to be moved anyway due to testing.

What is going to happen is that desks are going to be separated for testing and turned around so that there is no access to the inside of any desk. That will only be for Friday and Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I suppose I need to start mentioning the third grade end-of-year parties now so everyone can make arrangements if they can. Our parties were originally scheduled for the last day of school but we moved it back to Friday, June 6th starting at 2:00. As I mentioned yesterday, I am going to be preoccupied with cleaning up the classroom and getting it ready for the summer when the custodians wax the floors. Besides, there may be students who will not be here on the last day so the Friday before makes the most sense. I am going to be sending out a sign-up form so I can get an idea of who is coming and what people are bringing.

With that being said, we move on to the last instructional days before the test. Today’s warm-up was more review but not as heavy with the multi-step problems like yesterday.

We continued reading aloud One Came Home and are getting to the end of the story. We did a prediction on the end of the story using a graphic organizer.

We also reviewed main idea and compare/contrast.

Math was more all-around review. I am looking forward to after testing where we can do compound probability and 4th grade material.

There will be a Connect-Ed message going out tomorrow about testing. On Friday, please ensure that your child has eaten a nice breakfast, gotten a good night’s sleep, and is on time for testing. Students who arrive late (except for late buses) will have to make up the test at another time.
Please make sure that your child does NOT bring a book bag to school on Friday and Tuesday. Bringing a lunch is fine.

Also, please be sure that your child does not bring a cell phone to school unless it is absolutely necessary. It will have to be collected and locked up for the duration of testing, even my phone. In fact, please make sure that no electronic devices at all are brought to school on Friday and Tuesday. Even the teachers’ devices have to be turned in and locked up for testing to ensure the best possible security.

Lastly, please discuss with your child the importance of doing their best on the tests and taking their time. This is their chance to show what they know and I want them to get the best possible scores. Please stress that it is important to do their best on each and every questions and not to rush through to finish. Early finishers can look over their work or sit there for the duration of testing – nothing else. They are not allowed to draw nor read afterwards. The testing session is scheduled for three hours and I will not stop until either the three hours are up or every student has finished.

What happens if the three hours are up and a student is not finished? That student will get an extra hour in a separate location. Lunch will still be served but they will be bagged lunches.
I know that this is not going to be easy but I have told the class that it only lasts for two days and then it is all over!

Monday, May 19, 2014

This is it: the last four instructional days before Friday’s reading test. As I have mentioned before, I am not going to pressure them but just review, do some activities, review strategies, and then give them independent reading time.

Math too will be more review of skills and a few more strategies. For example, on the scratch piece of paper, write down as many math facts and details as possible to use as a reference. This should be done as soon as they hear the words, “You may begin.” The scrap paper is going to be collected anyway so it really doesn’t matter.

The warm up is a continuation of a variety of skills to be reviewed along with multi-step problems to be solved. After testing is over with, we will resume the warm-ups in the morning on Wednesday, May 28th and will stop on Friday, June 6th. The last two days of school will not have that.

In literacy, we continued reading aloud One Came Home. We then went over inference/drawing conclusions with three very short (one paragraph) passages. Tomorrow will cover other skills (main idea, cause/effect, etc) and each day we will do something else.

We also did a modified Interpretation of Data activity on the read-aloud. This helps students think critically and make reasonable predictions. Below is the screen capture from the Smart Board:

Monday Literacy Activity.png

We also did a reading passage that was only a page in length and answered the questions. We will do that tomorrow and Wednesday but not Thursday which is the day before testing. I am planning on having them do a lot more independent reading after doing a final review of reading strategies.

In math, we continued reviewing the various skills that were taught/reinforced throughout the year.

Field Day is going to be one June 3rd and our Talent Show is this Friday. The class party is going to be held on Friday, June 6th around 2:30. We were originally scheduled for the last day (June 10th) but that wasn’t going to work. I am going to be cleaning the room, stacking desks, stacking chairs, etc.

I am planning on having the students totally clean out their desks and cabinets on Monday, June 9th. Please note that if students leave anything in their desks after the last day of school, it will need to be picked up by the end of Wednesday, June 11th or it will be either thrown out or recycled. I am not sure if I will be in on that Thursday or not so it is safer to have the Wednesday deadline.

Friday, May 16, 2014

In one week from today, the EOG or READY (whatever!) tests will begin. Today we continued our review and preparation but at a more relaxed pace. I am not going to stress out my students and I am confident that they will not only pass but will do well too. We will continue to discuss strategies and prepare but that is all that I am planning on doing.

The warm-up will continue until the end of the year with the exception on the testing days.

We continued reading aloud One Came Home and are about half-way through the book. So, my thoughts once more are turning towards the next book.

In both reading and in math we used the iPads to do work online. Math was more self-directed where the class worked at their own pace and on their own chosen level. Third was too easy so they had the choice of 3rd-6th. Everything is on the Launch page.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Today was another day of what we have been doing leading up to testing.

We continued reading aloud One Came Back which is actually getting very addictive. I was worried that this book was going to be a yawner but it is more and more compelling. The author is actually pretty masterful in keeping us hooked and only revealing bits of the mystery in small portions.
There is more time given to independent reading since I want them to build up stamina for the test. Plus, they are reading material that is of interest to them.

In math, we did more multi-step work and reviewed rounding.

In science, we planted the thyme seeds and discussed how the seed will begin to sprout once water has removed the protective cover. Once that is gone, it is a signal to begin germination. Hopefully before long we shall see our seedlings. I am keeping everything on the window sills to get as much natural light as possible. Plus, I have my strawberry seeds too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We continued with our usual review now that DIBELS is over with. I am relieved that the only testing left (other than classroom stuff) is the READY test. That is quite an ironic name since all of us are more than ready to put it behind us. Once all of the testing has finished we will be at a more relaxed pace and literacy will move towards a more creative direction. Math will be 4th grade stuff.

We continued reading aloud One Came Back. It is not the easiest book to read but I think we will continue with it.

We are also continuing with the morning work. Today took a different turn with the graduated cylinders. 3rd graders have to read liquid capacities and they have done quite well with it. So, I thought that today it would be nice if they were the ones who shaded/colored in a given amount rather than read it.

In math, we focused more on fact families and more problem solving.

In science, we continued with ecosystems by going over plants. I received in the mail a strawberry growing dome so we planted everbearing strawberries. I had the class prepare their cups to plant their own thyme seeds in their own cup filled with a peat-based growing medium. I had a ton of that stuff in my garage so this helps me clear out some clutter while giving the class the joy of planting seeds and watching them grow. Plus, the thyme plants are good for cooking with so they actually have something useful than a pretty flower. And…..they are perennial plants so they can keep on giving year after year.

Tomorrow, the seeds will be planted.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Today we began the read aloud of One Came Home, which is an historical fiction piece that takes place in Wisconsin in 1871. It is also a thriller and mystery.
The warm-ups are continuing as we get closer to the end of regular instruction.

I did reserve the iPad cart for Friday so there will be a lot of on-line activities. I am still going to have the morning work in paper form but the students will enter their answers online.

In literacy, DIBELS are behind us and as far as I know, that is the last your child will be seeing of that since it only goes up to third grade. Either the DIBELS program doesn’t go past third or CMS has chosen not to purchase it.

In math, we focused on a geometry review using a quadruple Venn Diagram to classify shapes. Not bad considering how complex it can be…..

Tuesday Quadruple Venn Diagram Activity.png
Then, we reviewed multiplication.

Monday, May 10, 2014

Thus we begin the final whole week of school before testing begins. Though that is the focus of both reading and math, I am not going to be hounding them. I fully expect this bunch to do well as long as they do their best and manage their time. I will be spending time each day going over good test taking strategies but there will be no pressure. That is the last thing that they need. I think all of us will be relieved once that is over with!

The warm-up was another compilation of different concepts but now I want as many problems as possible to be multi-step if I can help it. I like it because it makes them think. We are also continuing with it being calculator-active to get them used to it. I have to say that it is nice to not have to do a whole lesson on how to use it!

We continued reading aloud The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall.

In literacy, I finally finished up with DIBELS as well as reviewed reading strategies for the test. We did sample passages just to be familiar with the format.

Math consisted of review that took a variety of third grade concepts and presented them in a multiple choice format. We then did some review problems.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Two weeks from now the English Language Arts EOG (or READY test – whatever!) will be administered. That gives us two more weeks to prepare for the test. To be truthful (when am I not?), the issue that I am most concerned with is not lack of knowledge but lack of focus.

I have been stressing daily the importance of being focused and doing one’s best. We still have a month of school left and unfortunately, too many students are entering “summer mode” when their minds are checking out. This is the worst possible time to be doing this. Please talk with your child about the importance of doing one’s best and not playing and acting like this is the last day of school. There will be plenty of time for that in June.

Today I have assigned the final homework assignment of the school year. It is due on the 16th. Since the test has been moved up to Friday, the 23rd, I felt that it would not be a good idea. There are 54 questions but I do not know how many passages there are and I am clueless about how many are fiction vs. nonfiction. The students will find out when the test is administered.
However, the math warm-up activities will continue until the day before testing and will resume after testing has been completed.

I have been going over testing with the class each day in order to prepare them. When they come in on Friday morning, there will be no warm-up nor any reading independently. They can draw quietly on paper that I will provide. Students will be encouraged to use the restroom. That is crucial since using the restroom is not permitted during testing unless it is a legitimate emergency. It can be very disruptive, even when done quietly as possible.

It is very important for the students to follow instructions. When we are testing, I can only read from a script. I cannot read something, paraphrase, nor help in any way. They are on their own!
When students are finished, they can go back over their answers and sit quietly. They are not permitted to draw on scrap paper and definitely not read anything. That is why I keep emphasizing the importance of taking one’s time and pacing oneself. There is no grand prize for finishing first.
In literacy, we continued with the read aloud of The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall. Today was also the last day for the choice menu. The next two weeks will emphasize reading and will include writing too.
In math, we continued with reviewing a variety of concepts. I am also having them use the calculator more in order to get used to it. I am thinking about doing an entire lesson on the calculator just to make sure but we shall see. So far I have had zero questions or concerns about it.

I do know this about the math test: it too will have 54 questions but this year is different. In the past, the math portion was split into two individual tests over the course of two days. The first test was calculator active and then on the second day they would take a much shorter (28 questions) calculator inactive.

This year, there are still two different tests but 27 of each kind. They take the calculator inactive test first and when they are finished, a calculator will be given to them.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Today we finished reading aloud the novel The Upstairs Room, the 26th read-aloud book. Yes….it is true! We have read the following books this year:

Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
When the Tripods Came
The White Mountains
The City of Gold and Lead
The Pool of Fire
Among the Hidden
Among the Imposters
Among the Betrayed
Among the Barons
Among the Brave
Among the Enemy
Among the Free
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Dragons of Winter Night
Dragons of Spring Dawning
Time of the Twins
War of the Twins
Test of the Twins
The Upstairs Room

For the next book, the class had three options:

Ghost of Crutchfield Hall.jpg
The Journey Back (sequel to The Upstairs Room), The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall, and One Came Back. Instead of counting a show of hands, I quickly created a survey and embedded it within a new page on my wiki (read aloud survey). I had the students take turns and then the results were in.
Based on the number of votes, The Ghose of Crutchfield Hall was chosen. It is a combination of historical fiction and horror. The book was purchased at our book fair.

The warm-up did not have an answer key due this morning so we solved it on the Smart Board. The one difference was that today’s warm-up was calculator active. The calculator was good for solving the bigger numbers but did nothing to actually help solve the problems if they didn’t understand.

In math, we reviewed harder multiplication and division and again the calculators were used to help solve since it still required prior knowledge.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Arts Alive is this evening at the school if you are interested in attending.

The math warm-up had seven problems to solve but one of them involved more than just solving. The third one required the students to write an equation using parentheses to solve it and then include the correct answer. The last problem involved area and perimeter. However, the task had the student solve both area and perimeter for each of the four squares and then determines which one had the area and perimeter being the same number. I like multi-step problems since it makes the students think AND I can squeeze in more than one concept.

We continued the read-aloud of The Upstairs Room. We did do more reading comprehension today and I continued with DIBELS. The students also continued with their choice menu assignments.
Today after lunch we did Hive Time since today is Wednesday. This week’s focus will be on reading comprehension. After today we will have eleven more instructional days before testing. While it is crunch time, this too shall pass so I keep reminding the class that everyone needs to do their best for it will be here before we know it. After that, things will take on a more relaxed pace.

In literacy, we will be doing a novel study (more later) once testing is complete. Math will shift its focus to preparing for 4th grade.

In math today, we continued with review by focusing more on multi-step problem solving involving different combinations of operations (add, then subtract; multiply then add, etc.).

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

I am not sure how many people have noticed this or not so I am mentioning it first thing for today’s entry. Among the feedback I received about the wiki page was that this particular page was very slow loading. That was due to the huge amount of data on it since it has been updated since the beginning of school. So what I did was make a new archive page. Hopefully, this page loads a lot faster for you since there is so much less to have to be loaded.

One idea I am looking at for next year is having multiple wiki pages linked from this main one. The reason behind it is that I am not sure if I can create sub pages or not. For example, let’s say I want to have a math page and then by going to it there are links for homework, help, etc. I don’t know if that is do-able or not and I really don’t have the time at this stage of the school year. What I do know is that teachers can have multiple wiki pages. We shall see……

I don’t have too many plans in place for the mobile app except for this: I did finally purchase a developer license at Apple so my app can be available on the App Store instead of appcatch.com. Right now I have hit a snag so I am waiting for tech support to help me through this. I don’t have any plans on changing things for the Android version.

I have updated the calendar that is on both the app and the wiki. I have added important dates for the next school year since that calendar was already approved and is available on the CMS webpage . The employee calendar has not yet been posted or otherwise the progress report dates would have been included. However, the crucial dates are available.

The morning work was lengthier today with nine problems to solve but there were a lot fewer graphics and more content. I know I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Math EOG test preparation is really like trying to throw a basketball through the net in the dark. In other words, I know the content that has to be taught but how it is worded and how much of any given concept (for example, geometry) is up in the air. I know that, for example, algebra and operations make up about 40% of the test. But, what format? So, all I can do is try to approach each concept from different angles. This does help with problem solving a LOT though.

In literacy, we continued with DIBELS since the window is closing next Wednesday. Also, we continued with reading comprehension passages. Then, with the time remaining, I had the class work on their choice menu.

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

In science, we continued the focus on ecosystems and the needs of plants.

After lunch we spent about 20 minutes in the media center to preview the book fair. Needless to say, my class loved it!

In math, we continued reviewing by focusing more on algebra, order of operations, and the properties (associative, commutative, distributive) of multiplication. The associative property is simply stating that no matter how multiplied numbers are grouped, the result is the same. For example, 3(2x4) = 4(3x2).
The commutative property is simply the fact that no matter the order of numbers being multiplied or added, the outcome is the same: 4x3x5=5x3x4. The difference between the two so far is that associative has parentheses.

We have already gone over distributive: a(b+c) = ab+ac so a refresher isn’t needed.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Today begins the countdown before testing begins. As you may know, the 3rd grade reading test was moved back to Friday, May 23rd. This was not at all a local decision but a mandate from the state. I want to stress the importance of doing one’s best on the test. I really have no idea why on Earth the EOG test would be administered on a Friday before Memorial Day weekend. And then, the math test will be on Tuesday after the three day weekend. Sigh.
The warm-up continues with the overall review.

We continued the read-aloud of The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss. This is a true story and is gripping. I did order the sequel on my Kindle so we shall see. I also ordered another book that was an honorable mention for the 2014 Newbery Award but that too is in the future.

We continued with the literacy thing while I did DIBELS. But, with the tests coming up soon, I do want to focus on that a little more until all of it is over with.

In math, we have moved into a more general review of multiple concepts since we have hit everything by now. Math class has moved to the format of: review the warm-up, review various content, and then do independent work where they can self-check for accuracy.

Tomorrow, the classes will switch for science and social studies.

Thursday, May 1 and Friday, May 02, 2014

Yesterday I was out using a personal day to finish up assignments for the class I was taking at Queens University. So, all of it has been uploaded and I wash my hands of that. Of course, the NEXT class will start soon and (lucky me!) this one meets two nights a week.
The warm-up activities that the class was given both yesterday and today were of the same format. Math had a challenging activity that used both math and critical thinking with problem solving. It is called Broken Calculator and requires the students to figure out a way to get the number 2005 using only the + - 0 1 keys and nothing else.

Literacy wasn’t disrupted since the Smart Board notebook was already made and the students had no trouble navigating to the page.

Today, literacy was the same with one exception: I finished reading aloud the novella, The Legacy. That is the end of the Dragonlance series that I intend to read aloud. I know that most of the class would have liked for me to go on but I am thoroughly tired of it. So, I began reading aloud The Upstairs Room.

In math, I continued with problem solving by having them do some challenging activities

In science, we continued with ecosystems. Though it is likely that my class will go to Ms. Allen’s for social studies next week, I am still planning on incorporating science within literacy.

Lastly, the next homework assignment has been posted both on the wiki page section Homework as well as the mobile app. I was notified by several parents of errors in last week’s. I really appreciate the feedback!!! This week’s SHOULD be better. Next week’s assignment (given out on Friday, May 9th) will be the last one.

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.

820910.jpgThe 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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

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.

Monday, August 26, 2013
The first day of school! We began the 2013-2014 school year like always: nervous, excited, and awkward. After a late bus or two, we got started. It was a little awkward for me too. As a teacher, no matter how hard one tries to prepare for the first day of school, it never quite goes as planned. For example, my room had a new Smart Board installed and of course, not EVERYTHING was installed nor is working properly. So, to get the closed-circuit news on channel 7, I had to jerry rig the vcr (remember those?) into the Smart Board and had to tinker around with it. It was a good thing that I have enough cables and electronic parts to open my own Radio Shack store!
Then, I did the introductory presentation on classroom expectations, procedures, consequences, etc. The students were also given a chance to ask me questions to get to know me such as favorite color (purple), favorite food (pizza), favorite restaurant (I don’t have one but I love Mexican and I love eating at this little Indian restaurant called Situl), and so forth. We also practiced where to go and what to do during a lockdown. At the end of that, we went on a brief tour of the school and that was a good opportunity to practice proper hallway etiquette and for new students to learn about Barringer. It was also a great time to use the restroom and learn about the procedures for that as well.
For the remainder of the literacy block, I began an interactive read-aloud of Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I will be reading aloud the entire series with the exception of The First Four Years. The reason being is that it is a short book and isn’t completed. Plus, it is a very dreary book. Life during a drought in South Dakota isn’t happy reading.
Afterwards, we went outside to recess and then went to lunch.
Upon returning, I read for five more minutes and then we began math. In math, the third grade administered a pre-test on place value. This is a common assessment in which everyone has to take the same test for data purposes. I can tell already that we will be doing place value beyond the hundreds place and will quickly move on from there. This is just to give us an idea of where the students are at so we can plan on where to take them.
In science (we do science one week and social studies the next) we started off with the steps of the scientific method. Students wrote them down in their notebooks, and we discussed why it was important to follow it.
Then, to test the scientific method we did a brief experiment. I asked the class the question if two physical objects colliding will increase their temperatures, decrease, or have no effect at all. Students made a hypothesis based on one of the three choices. To test the experiment I took the temperatures of each student’s hand using an infrared thermometer. In their notes, they wrote down the temperature. The next step was to clap their hands for two minutes. I randomly chose a student and measured the temperature of the hands after clapping showing that there is indeed a connection. I emphasized that there is nothing wrong with having a wrong hypothesis, one just has to go back and try again.

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.
<insert warm up>
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
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.


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.