Friday, December 21, 2007


In math we took Quiz #2 for Unit 3. Overall, the children did exceptionally well!!! Then in reading we took our prefix spelling test...please look over your child's test...we had a few with "issues". :-( But, again, most children did very well! Then we read and discussed the final issue of Time for Kids for 2007. It was a "Year in Review" issue and I handed out gifts to the children.

Next, the class went to music and a holiday band concert performed by the Damascus HS band. Then they will go to lunch and recess.

Following recess, Mrs. Kriz will sub for me...I will be attending my son's holiday party. The children will work on two holiday crafts and then go to an All-School Sing Along...

Have a wonderful break...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One more day...

First...a stocking stuffer many of the children don't have pencils...UGH!

In math, we worked on comparison multiplication and multiplying two digit numbers by 1 digit numbers. Tomorrow we will have a quiz...use last week's quiz to study for it. The quiz will be VERY similar with the addition of two division problems! PLEASE make sure your child is using their multiplication flashcards to memorize the basic facts!!

In reading we wrapped up our current stories/books with discussions. We also reviewed suffixes and compound words. Tomorrow is our prefix spelling test!

Following lunch and recess, we will visit the computer lab. We will open our saved card from last week, make changes to it and print it! When we return to class we will continue reading about Washington, DC. By the way, as we read the nonfiction article we are also identifying and highlighting the main idea in many of the paragraphs...multitasking at its finest!! :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grandparent's Day

We had a lot of visitor's today...I sure hope they enjoyed themselves!!

During math, we took a formative. The children did exceptionally well on the first two pages. I am so excited for can see their confidence and enthusiasm grow! The third page of the formative covered fourth grade objectives that have NOT been taught in class. I was curious to see how they would do on this page...that is the reason I gave it to them. I was impressed with their attempts at solving the problems.

There will be a quiz on Friday but there will NOT be any fourth grade objectives on the quiz. No homework was given tonight but I did suggest that the children practice their multiplication flashcards.

During reading, we reviewed compound words and words with suffixes. The we read a book about Family Trees. After that, the children were given family trees to complete. This was meant as a fun activity and did not need to be completed.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the children were able to choose to work on their family trees or their informative writing pieces. Then Mrs. Howard came in to teach a lesson about self discipline.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Working hard...

The children continue to work hard and make progress...

During math, the children practiced solving division problems. Based on an "exit card", I worked with a small group to draw pictures to help solve the problems. Then I worked with a few students on 4th grade objectives...these included identifying multiples and factors of a given number and completing a function table. For homework, the children have to finish division worksheets and PRACTICE their FLASHCARDS!!!!

At the start of the reading block we review suffixes and compound words. Then the children worked on reading group assignments and the independent work from yesterday.

I met with the FLASH group to begin reading a new book. Then those students met individually with Mrs. Issacs to practice their flashcards and reread the book.

I also met with the Junie B. Jones group. We discussed the summaries of chapter 5 and I modeled writing one, as well. Then we read and discussed chapter 6.

I also met with the Fisherman group. I gave them the discussion question for our shared inquiry discussion and they began to write their initial response.

Following reading, the children enjoyed lunch and outdoor recess.

When they return to class, they will write to inform on a topic of their choice and we will continue reading about Washington, DC...if they work as hard as they did this morning, I am planning to show a Magic School Bus holiday video...but that is a surprise! Shhhhhhhhh...

A note about Grandparent's Day...I am trying to picture my own parents visiting my son's school and I firmly believe they would want to watch "typical instruction"...therefore, I am planning to give a math formative (remember, the children grade their own work) and keep our schedule as close to normal as possible...with the addition of a family tree activity...hope this doesn't disappoint any grandparents!

Monday, December 17, 2007

And the countdown begins...

There is excitement in the air as students prepare for Winter Break...This is definitely a fun time of year...especially when the Redskins pull out two consecutive victories! :-)

Today, in math, we worked on using different strategies to solve division problems. There is a multiplication worksheet for homework. Also, make sure your child is practicing their flashcards EVERY night...they need to memorize the basic multiplication facts.

Good news, bad news...bad news was our art class was cancelled today ...the good news? We had extra time for reading instruction...

We began by reading and discussing an issue of Time for Kids. The students had two pieces of independent work that EVERYONE is responsible for completing this week...a prefix worksheet and a follow up for the Time for kids.

The Junie B. Jones group reread chapter 5 and wrote a summary of the chapter in their reading logs. These were MUCH improved from lat week...YEY!

The Flash group reread their Ships book and answered three comprehension questions in their reading logs.

The Fisherman JGB group discussed their directed notes. They also worked on answering a comprehension question, in their packet, using the post-it notes from their directed reading.

The Ugly Duckling group reread the story using post-it notes to mark places where the ducking was sad or scared (these were marked with an "s") and when the duckling was being treated in a mean way (these were marked with an "m").

Following lunch and recess, we reviewed the organization of writing to inform...primarily we discussed that every piece needs a beginning, middle and end. The beginning introduces the topic and has big ideas...this can be done by stating a generalization, introducing an interesting fact or posing a question. The middle includes all of the details. I told the children this is the place to show off their knowledge! Finally, the ending needs to wrap up the piece, let the reader know it is over...

We ended our day at the media center. Mrs. Rose read Snowflake Bentley to the class. Then they created snowflakes and got to shop for new books.

BTW...I changed the desks around AGAIN...I hated the rows that I had created last week!

Spelling is due Friday...make sure your child continues ton read for 15 minutes EVERY night!

Grandparents Day is Wednesday!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Here's the problem with productive weeks...the truly tire you out! We've had a great week but I think we are all ready for the weekend! :-)

In math, the students took a quiz covering I had anticipated (and hoped) they did VERY well! Following the quiz, we began discussing division.

We spent the majority of our reading block working on reading group assignments and independent work. I was able to meet with three out of four groups!

The JGB group who is beginning The Ugly Duckling, shared their text opener activity and listened as I read the story to them. Then they reread the story on their own.

The Fisherman JGB group reread the story with directed notes. They marked (using sticky notes) places with an F where the fisherman was unkind to Alice. They also marked places where Alice was mean to the fisherman with an A.

Finally, the Junie B. Jones group met with me and watched as I modeled how to write a summary of chapter 4. They had been given this as an assignment earlier in the week but their answers were very we reviewed the aspects of a good summary and I modeled how to write a good summary. Then we reread chapter 5 as a group. Next week they will attempt to write a summary of chapter 5.

Following lunch and recess, we reviewed a worksheet about the Damascus High School State Championship victory. They had to read the article and answers questions. We spent time going over this in-depth, as the class struggled while trying to complete this activity independently.

Finally, we watched a video about Washington, DC.

Have a great weekend...I hope we don't get snow...I have LOTS to do! :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gotta love those productive days!!

We are just humming along today...

In math we tackled, and I do mean tackled, multiplication word problems. The children are really demonstrating understanding of multiplication...I am so excited to see their quizzes tomorrow...and by the way, there will be a quiz covering multiplication tomorrow. Tonight the children need to complete a fact family worksheet and practice their multiplication basic fact cards.

Moving on to reading...lots got done...we compiled a list of words with un- and re-prefixes. The children chose new spelling words and worked independently while I met with small groups and Mrs. Bonvillain worked one-on-one with others.

Both JGB groups began new stories. One group completed their text opener (think of it as a brain warm up for a story) and listened to a first reading of the new story. This group needs to reread the "Fisherman" story for homework tonight.

The other group began their text opener. We will share these tomorrow and do a first reading of the story (The Ugly Ducking). They need to read for 15 minutes tonight but it is free choice.

The Junie B Jones group met with me and almost finished rereading (an re- word!!) chapter 4...tomorrow we will write a summary of chapter 4 TOGETHER and then they will write a summary of chapter 5 on their own. Tonight, this group needs to read chapter 5.

Finally, the FLASH group began a new book today. They need to reread this tonight. They will work on comprehension questions tomorrow.

Following lunch and indoor recess, we visited the computer lab...we began making holiday cards using a new software package (Microsoft Publisher) and saved them to our desktop. Next week they will finish and print the cards.

Mrs. Howard ended the day by doing a Stop and Think lesson with us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hump Day

As a favor for Mrs. Thompson, we switched our music class from Friday to today for this week only! So, after math, the children went from music to PE to lunch and then to recess. I am sure they viewed it as a "fun day"!

During math we took a formative and then reviewed it as a class. I was very pleased with the results and am anxiously looking forward to our quiz on Friday. There is a worksheet for homework but PLEASE make sure the children are working on memorizing the basic multiplication facts.

Following lunch, we will review plural vs. possessive nouns and then the children will spend some time writing to inform. Then we will read an article about Washington DC.

For homework the children must read for at least 15 minutes. Also, many students need to redo their writing assignment from last night. :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quick Update

Gotta take Michael to the this will be quick and to the point...

In math we went over multiplication and division fact families...I was so pleased with their understanding of this concept! There is a fact family worksheet for homework and please practice those basic fact flashcards!

Reading...both JGB groups had their shared inquiry discussions today...they also completed their packets and will start a new story this week. Some children worked one-on-one with Mrs. Isaacs. All children worked on cursive (capital M, N and W), a reading activity about the Damascus Football game last Thursday (thanks Mr. Alexander) and a prefix worksheet.

Following lunch and recess, the children will review possessive nouns, write to inform and work with an Atlas. There will be a writing worksheet for homework.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday, Monday

Only two more weeks until Xmas Break and you can feel the excitement growing in the classroom! We are still plugging away, though...

In math, we had a lengthy discussion about how to use the multiplication flashcards to memorize the basic's the gist:

First, begin buy focusing on a small portion. Leave the rest to the side until you have gotten the first batch under control. Then, go through them for 5-10 minutes EVERY day. The ones that are known by rote memory should be removed from the pile. As the pile gets smaller, add more cards from the original group.

Hopefully, this explanation makes sense. I did "model" what it should look like in class.

Following the flashcard discussion, we watched a United Streaming clip about multiplication. Then we practiced skip counting by 6's and worked on a worksheet. Students did not have a chance to finish the worksheet in class, so that is their homework. Also, they are expected to practice their flashcards.

Following math, we used the morning message to identify nouns and adjectives. Then we read part of a non fiction text on the Desert Region. Finally, we began our new spelling unit...words with the prefixes un- and re-. The children are having some difficulty understanding that "un" and "re" are only prefixes if they are at the beginning of a root (or base) word. We will work more on this tomorrow.

After art, lunch and recess (outdoor!) we will visit the media center for a book exchange. I am also hoping to begin a writing lesson talking about plurals vs. possessive nouns. I am seeing a need for instruction based on their writing samples! Then we will go to the DES Holiday concert, where the band and the chorus will be performing for us.

For homework, students will need to locate 10 words in magazines or the newspaper with the prefix un or re and glue it in their spelling journal or on a piece of paper! They should also be reading for at least 15 minutes!

One more thing...graded writing pieces are coming home TODAY!!!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Multiplication Flashcards!

This morning, my math class began making multiplication flashcards. They used a calculator to find the products (answer to a multiplication sentence). Most children did not finish. I would really appreciate it if the students could finish these over the weekend. On Monday, I plan to review with the children a good technique to use with the flashcards in order to memorize the basic facts.

Following math the students took their spelling tests and worked on any unfinished work for the week.

Then the class went to music, lunch and recess.

After lunch we will read a book called Cows as a model of good organization in a nonfiction text. Then the students will get a chance to practice what we have learned as they write to inform in their writer's notebooks.

We will end the day by discussing the desert region and watching a video about it on United Streaming.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Two Hour Delay

Our first two hour delay...but we still got some learning done!! :-)

We began the day with math. We used arrays to write and solve multiplication number sentences. There is a worksheet for homework. I also HIGHLY recommend using the math links to begin memorizing the basic multiplication facts. We will begin making flashcards in class tomorrow.

Following math, it was time for lunch. After lunch we continued reading Wreck of the Ethie. Then we went to the computer lab.

In the computer lab, we investigated using spell check. We discussed the fact that spell check will not recognize every word (blog, for example) and that if you type the wrong spelling of a word (hour for our) the computer will not recognize that you made a mistake. After that mini-lesson, the children had "free choice" time on the computer. They were able to use Microsoft Word, Paint, visit our blog or go to many math resource links that are available.

When we return to the classroom the children will get some time to write to inform about a topic and then we will visit the 5th grade Structure exhibit.

Please remember that spelling homework is due tomorrow and we will take a spelling test.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Unit 3 Begins!

In math we began unit 3 - Multiplication and Division. We did a quick preview...well, it was about 40 minutes but I covered A LOT. The students took notes in their math journals. Following the preview, we took the pre-assessment to see what the children already know. Mr. Vogel and I will use the pre-assessment to determine the grouping of students and plan for appropriate instruction that meets the needs of our students. There is no math homework tonight but I encourage students to use the links from the blog to access a math website and begin memorizing the basic multiplication facts.

During reading, I met with the Junie B. Jones group. We read and discussed chapter 3. The rest of the class worked on independent work from their own reading groups, a follow up worksheet from Time for Kids and a compound word worksheet.

Then the class went to PE, lunch and recess.

After recess as a class we will edit another authentic piece of student writing and then the children will have time to write independently. I will also give the students a chance to share their writing with the class by reading it out loud.

Finally, we will review urban, suburban and rural regions. If there is time we will begin discussing the characteristics of a desert region.

One more light night of homework...make sure they read for 15 minutes and work on spelling...that's it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Grading Tuesday

Boy...I have my work cut out for me...we had a unit assessment and a graded writing piece today...LOTS of grading awaits me! :-)

Check out the new poll on the left hand side of the blog...please participate!

In math we completed the unit 2 assessment. Overall, the children did well. Tomorrow we will begin unit 3 with a quick review and a pre-assessment. If need be, Mr. Vogel and I will exchange students who would best fit in a different math class.

We began reading by talking about the elements of a good summary. These included:
  • stating the main idea
  • brief and to the point (concise)
  • reflects only what is in the speculation or adding your own opinion
  • in a logical order
  • in your own words

Then I used the graphic organize from the TFK in order to model writing a summary.

Then the school nurse visited to do a lesson on appropriate hand washing techniques.

After that, the students worked independently while I met with small groups and Mrs. Isaacs worked one-on-one with students.

The original JGB group met with me and we shared places that the students had marked where Miobi learned about being brave. We discussed these excerpts and the embedded inferences.

The newly added JGB group met with me and learned about directed notes. This is when the students reread a story and mark areas according to a purpose set forth by the teacher. For example, today they reread Master Cat and marked places with an "s" when something in the story surprised them and marked places with an "f" when they thought something was funny. We will use these marking to aid our comprehension and discussions.

Following lunch and indoor recess, the students worked independently on their first graded Writing to Inform piece. Then we discussed the meaning of the word region (as it pertains to Social Studies).

Tonight for homework, make sure your child reads for 15 choice, and that they are working on their spelling assignments...test is THIS Friday!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lesson to Learn

I have been thinking about this blog posting since Friday afternoon. A very upsetting event took place during dismissal. A student made a very unkind comment to another student regarding their personal appearance. It was one of those comments that has the potential to resonate for years to come...

Who said it and what the comment was isn't that relevant...what IS important is that a student hurt another's feelings intentionally. Yes, kids will be kids...yes, some of us (maybe even all of us) have done unkind things on purpose BUT as adults it is our job to teach our children right from wrong.

PLEASE take this opportunity to talk to you child about being kind to is important...EVERYONE counts!

On different note, in math today we completed a review packet for the unit 2 assessment. The entire third grade will take the assessment tomorrow. During reading we completed the graphic organizer that we started on Friday. Tomorrow, while I meet with reading groups, the children will use the graphic organizer to write a summary in their reading logs.

Following art, lunch and recess we will write another informational piece. Then we will read The Little House and examine how transportation affects the development of cities.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy Friday!

Definitely a double meaning...I am happy that the weekend is here but I am also happy with the work the children did it is just a HAPPY day! :-)

During math, the children took a quiz. They are graded and will come home today. PLEASE review it with your child. On Monday we will do a review packet and prepare for the unit assessment which will take place on Tuesday.

In reading we read and discussed Time for Kids. The cover story was about John F. Kennedy. We began to complete a graphic organizer to capture the "big ideas" from the article. Unfortunately, we ran out of time. Next week we will complete the graphic organizer and use it to write a summary.

Following music, lunch and recess we had writing.

During writing we had a little "discussion" about making good use of their time. The talk seemed to inspire our young writers, as many were able to choose a topic, create a web and begin a piece in which they were writing to inform.

Then we watched a video on United Streaming to show the children how cities changed as technology progressed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What a Day!

Wow...I am exhausted...good exhausted, though...we got a lot done today!! :-)

In math, we continued working on solving word problems using our measurement skills. Mrs. Starkey and I both worked with a small group based on needs that were identified through an exit card. For homework, there was a word problem worksheet for everyone...some also have classwork to finish.

In reading, we searched for more -ough words and learned the capital I and J in cursive. I also met with three reading groups. The original JGB group began rereading the Monster story with me using directed notes. They were marking where they thought Miobi was learning something about being brave. They continued this independently at their seats. The new JGB group read The Master Cat with me and then reread it on their own. ROY read chapter 2 in their Junie B. Jones book. The FLASH group worked with "kn", practiced their flashcards and began reading a new book about Maps. All groups need to reread their selection from class for homework tonight.

After lunch and recess we sorted our -ough words and created a class list. The students then created personal spelling lists. Then we went to an assembly. We watched a Russian trio perform.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


OK...down to business...

In math we took a 4 page formative...remember these are NOT graded and we review the correct answers together, as a class. For homework students MUST explain how to solve EACH problem to an adult...if they can not explain how to get the correct answer, go over it with them or send me a note and I will go over it with is imperative that children can explain HOW to get correct answers.

During reading we identified nouns and adjectives in the morning message. Then we took time to review compound words and to compare them to word that have prefixes and suffixes. We will continue to study composing and decomposing words with prefixes and/or suffixes tomorrow.

Following PE, lunch and recess we will work on editing our writing pieces. I have photocopied some samples of student work...without names, of course, and made overhead transparencies of the pieces. As a class we will go through and edit the pieces together.

Then Mrs. Howard will stop in to do a lesson on perseverance with the class. If there is time, we will also vote on a start student for next month.

Information about Scholastic Book Orders

Thanks to a gentle nudge by a parent, you are now able to place your own orders, online, for our Scholastic book orders...below is a letter that explains the procedure. The current order that is online is the one I sent home two weeks ago and was due last is NOT a new order form...but if you want to check it out, you can do so until December 1.

No worries, you will still receive paper order forms and be able to return them to school if ordering on line is not for you!

Here's the letter from Scholastic:
Dear Parent,
I have exciting news... You can now place your Scholastic Book Club orders online!

Browse all the great monthly Club selections at low prices and order online - all while helping our classroom earn FREE books, software, and resources.

Here's how it works:

Use the information below to access the Scholastic Book Clubs Web site.
Browse the titles with your child, and place your order with your credit card.
Your order will come to me, and your credit card payment will go directly to Scholastic's secure server. There's no need to send money to school.
After I submit the entire class's order to Scholastic, your order will be delivered to our classroom for your child to take home.

Class User Name: DanaHolmansClass
Password: Dragons
Remember, placing your online credit card order is completely safe and secure. Ordering online is the most convenient way to use Scholastic Book Clubs. You can order anytime, right up until the online order due date. And this month, our class can earn additional FREE books, just for trying this online ordering service. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heavy Heart

I started out the day with a very heavy heart...I was born and bred on the 'Skins...I remember watching games with my dad when we lived in New Jersey...they are truly an extension of our, as you can imagine, the news hit hard...

But working with the children this morning really lifted my spirits. :-)

During math, I was at a meeting but the children worked with Mrs. Starkey on solving word problems using the measurement skills we are working on in unit 2. Tomorrow, after a formative, we will continue using our skills to solve word problems. For homework, the children need to complete their classwork (if they didn't in school) and they have a TWO sided area and perimeter worksheet.

In reading we continued our focus on informational text. We had a great discussion regarding the purpose of our reading being the driving force behind was informational was deemed important versus informational that was interesting. We worked on this together and then the children worked on it independently in their reading logs.

For example, we read the book Life on the African Savannah, with the focus questions of "what animals live in the Savannah" and "what do you call a baby zebra". So, only information that answered these questions is important information...all other information becomes interesting as it does not address our focus.

At their seats, the children were given two new questions and were told to create a third question. Then they used the same book to locate important information that answered the question. I was so pleased by the children's understanding of the focus questions dictating the purpose for reading and thus, which information was important.

While the children worked independently, Mrs. Isaacs worked with some students individually while I met with small groups.

Following lunch and recess, I continued to meet with small groups while the children worked on their reading response logs AND editing their writing pieces.

JGB 1 began a new story called the Monster Who Grew Smaller...we did a text opener in which we the children imagined they were taking a trip on a train and they had to think about what would worry them about the impending trip. Then we read the story together. For homework, they need to reread the story.

The FLASH group met with me and we discussed prefixes, suffixes and base (or root) words. We created a chart in which we identified words in the Julia Alvarez book and then broke the words into parts. For homework they need to read for 15 minutes - free choice.

The ROY group has now been split into group began a Junie B. Jones book with me. We read chapter one in group and they need to reread it for homework. The other part of the group will be reading a Junior Great Books story called the Master Cat. This group did a text opener with me. We read and discussed a poem called the Cat of Cats. They need to read for 15 minutes tonight - free choice.

We began our second unit in Social Studies is called Cities of the Present. We began by discussing systems of transportation and focused on the airplane. We talked about the various elements that are needed such as a plane, fuel, air traffic controllers, maintenance crew, etc.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Day After

So, my husband surprised me with a Riggins jersey on Friday...I was so excited!!! I even wore it during Redskins Report on Saturday is now shoved in my closet...all balled up...I am repulsed by yesterday's game.

Luckily, being back to school is a GREAT distraction! It was so good to see the children this morning...I did miss them! :-)

During math we reviewed converting measurements of inches, feet and yards. Then we worked on identifying the area and perimeter of figures. We took it a step further today by trying to identify the linear measurement of an unknown side of a figure when we already know what the perimeter is...see their classwork if you are having difficulty visualizing what I mean. I am trying to teach them to begin with the known perimeter and subtract out the measurements of the sides that are known. Then the "leftover" is the measurement of the unknown side. For homework, they need to finish their classwork....PLEASE review this since many students appeared to just scribble down numbers once they heard that the unfinished worksheet would become part of their homework. They were also given a perimeter worksheet for homework.

During reading, we used the morning message to locate and identify nouns and adjectives. Then we read Postcards from our Planets to practice reading to be informed AND to locate words with the -ough spelling pattern...interesting tidbit, although the book has a non-fiction call number, the book itself is fiction but all of the information contained in it regarding the planets is non-fiction. As you might imagine, we had a nice discussion about that!

Following art, lunch and recess we continued reading Wreck of the Ethie and shared our morning work.

Then we continued writing to inform about a topic of our choice. The mini lesson prior to the children having time to "just write" centered around editing their writing. We talked about looking for obvious things...such as every sentence starting with a capital letter and ending with a punctuation mark. I also suggested the children reading their pieces to a friend and the friend asking questions that they have in their head in order to get the writer to add more details and be more specific in their writing. We talked about doing this editing using a pen so we could see the changes that were made. AND, of course, I stressed that change is GOOD!

Reading homework...have your child read for 15 minutes choice...if they come across any -ough words in their reading, they should write them down for our spelling unit!

Life wasn't so good in art a class there was so much talking that Mrs. Gribbin-Lindemon couldn't identify specific students who were too chatty...please just remind your children that even though it is an exciting time of year, they need to maintain their focus in school! :-)

Finally, yearbook order forms are going home today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Electronic Learning

In math today we visited the computer lab. We visited the site below to understand the relationship between length and width when determining the area of a on the link to see what we did!

After math, we learned that adjectives are "words that describe nouns" and located some in our Morning Message. Then we reviewed a few "ah-ha" moments from yesterday's reading lesson...these had to do with the organization and information contained in the table of contents and the index in informational text. Then we read and discussed Life in the Polar Regions. While this was going on, Brandon's grandma worked with children individually on their reading and sight words...thanks! Finally, the children worked either individually, with a partner or in a small group with me to answer a prompt in their reading response log.

It was a great morning!

Following lunch and recess, we continued reading The Wreck of the Ethie. Remember, the author, Hilary Hyland, is visiting DES tomorrow!

Then the children worked on their reading response logs (from this morning) and their writing to inform pieces (from yesterday). They day ended with Miss Jones reading a Thanksgiving story to the third grade and then more reading from The Wreck of the Ethie.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And so it begins...

How come when we were kids it seemed like it took FOREVER to get from one holiday season to the next and now it seems like the years SPEED by?!?! I can't believe that Thanksgiving is THIS week and that the holiday shopping season has begun! With that in mind, homework will be minimal this week...And we won't begin a new spelling unit until NEXT Monday.

If you tried to use the links for math practice, there WAS a problem....but thanks to a classroom mom, I was alerted to the problem and have fixed both least I THINK I have. :-) Try them out this week since we will have very little homework.

OK...down to math, we practiced measuring using centimeters AND using the measurements to calculate the perimeter of shapes. While the children worked independently, I met with a small group to practice converting inches to feet, feet to yards, and inches to yards. WE used foot long rulers to help and talked about skip counting.

In reading we read Life in the Polar Regions and used our background knowledge from Angela in the Arctic to compare the two texts and increase our comprehension.

Following art, lunch and recess we began a story entitled The Wreck of the Ethie by Hilary Hyland. She is a local author who will be visiting our school on Wednesday.

After that, we had a code red drill and we used our webs to write to inform about a topic of our choice. Then we visited the media center for a book exchange.

Remember that book orders are due tomorrow...AND students still need to read for at least 15 minutes EVERY night...also, CHECK OUT the math links!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tis' the Season?

While we had an extremely productive week and managed to get a lot done today, the class, in general, was overly "chatty"...I hope this isn't the beginning of the holiday season excitement...oh well, as long as the children are still learning you can't blame them for being excited! :-)

In math we took our first quiz for unit 2...overall, the grades were good! We still need lots of practice converting inches to feet, feet to yards, etc. During reading we took a spelling test and the children had time to complete unfinished work...a couple still needed extra time, so they are bringing the Angela from the Arctic book home to complete the reading response assignment this weekend!

Following music, lunch and recess, we finished the book Wishes, Kisses and had a great ending...ask you child about it! And ask them which one of Mrs. Holman's predictions were right...I knew the owl was the dad!!

Then I spent time modeling how to turn our web into a piece of writing. We started to work on our writing independently but being that it was 2:30 on a Friday, the children's hearts weren't into we watched a movie about Thanksgiving...we'll continue with the writing on Monday!

Have a wonderful weekend...remember that book orders are due Tuesday!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sometimes we just need to MEMORIZE!

That was the theme in math class today...PLEASE help your child memorize that 12 inches is the same as 1 foot and 3 feet equals a yard. We spent a lot of time today converting linear measurements both in small groups and independently. There is a worksheet, on area, for homework. The quiz tomorrow focuses on converting linear measurements (inches, feet and yards), identifying area and perimeter and a review of subtraction and numeric patterns.

Oh, speaking of math, look over to the left...those are links to web sites that can help you and your child practice/learn math skills...please use them! IF for nothing else, have your children work on the basic math facts...they REALLY need to memorize'd be surprised what 5 minutes of practice each day can do!

During reading we read a book called Angela from the Arctic. It is a non fiction book about life in a small town in Alaska which is located inside the Arctic Circle. We had a great discussion as we read the book...some points included how the text features (especially photographs) helped our comprehension and we used a map to locate the town and discuss why it is only accessible by boat or plane. I really enjoyed the conversation and I think many of the children did, too. The students then responded to a prompt in their reading response logs while I met with two small groups. Mrs. Bonvillain also worked individually with several students practicing sight word flashcards and reading a new book.

Tonight the JGB group needs to complete their Little Daughter of the Snow packets. The FLASH group needs to reread the Julia Alvarez book. The ROY group must read for at least 15 minutes but it is free choice!

After lunch and indoor recess, we will visit the computer lab. The students will create a picture in Paint and "hand it in" to me via the "hand in" folder on our school's computer server. Then Mrs. Howard will be doing a lesson with the children about perseverance.

Don't forget, spelling homework is due tomorrow and we will have a spelling test. Also, book orders are due no later than Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hump Day

In math we took a formative that covered measuring lines and identifying the area and perimeter of shapes. We then reviewed the formative to clear up any misconceptions and answer any questions that remained in the students' minds. For homework the children are to go over the formative with an adult....have them explain what they did right and explain why they got items wrong...this will reinforce their own understanding.

During reading we used the cover story in our Time for Kids to practice identifying the main idea in non fiction text. We picked out important details and added them up to discover the author's main idea.

Following PE, lunch and recess, we continued reading Wishes, Kisses and Pigs. Then we shared a book called Extraordinary Girls. We used the book to talk about how to develop our ideas in writing. We noticed how the authors took a topic we know about and broke it into different main ideas and used details to further develop the main ideas. After that, I modeled making a new web about dogs by breaking down my web from yesterday into main ideas and supporting details. After that the children went back and created new webs using their new knowledge.

Book order forms were sent home yesterday. They are due NO LATER THAN Tuesday, November 20, 2007.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


In math we continued identifying the area and perimeter of shapes. Tomorrow we will take our first formative for this unit. We will then take time to review areas of concern/frustration in preparation for a quiz on Friday. The quiz on Friday will cover measurement, area and perimeter and some review from unit 1.

During reading we practiced using the dictionary to locate the meanings of new words and we learned three capital letters (C, E and Q) in cursive. Additionally, the children worked on assignments from their reading groups.

The JGB group used the sticky notes from the directed reading as we discussed whether or not the parents in the story were good or bad parents. The ROY group read chapter 9 together and discussed the story, as this was the final chapter in the book. The FLASH group worked individually with Mrs. Isaacs and then reread the Museum book with me.

Following lunch and recess, we read more from Wishes, Kisses and Pigs and shared some of our morning work entries. Then we discussed Writing to Inform and I modeled creating a web as a pre-writing activity. Students then got a chance to create a web for a topic they plan to write about. Finally, we watched the final segment of Econ and Me and discussed the economic term, interdependence.

Homework tonight:
Read for 15 choice for most but Museum for FLASH
Reading worksheet for ALL
Math worksheet for all (Centimeter Critter) and some need to finish the area worksheet from class.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Early Dismissal Days

Friday and today (Monday) were early dismissal days. Although the instructional time was shortened, we still got a lot done...

In math, we practiced identifying the perimeter and area of shapes. I am teaching the children to use hash marks as they count the perimeter of shapes and to number the squares as they count the area. Remember, area needs to be labeled in SQUARE units. The class had a worksheet for homework that focused on area.

During reading the children worked on reading group assignments.

The JGB group wrote questions in their reading response journals on Friday. They were supposed to write questions they had in their minds after reading Little Daughter of the Snow. They were to pay attention to what they were wondering about and what was bothering them. Today, we reread the story using the directed notes we read we marked places with a G where we thought the parents were "good" parents and we marked places with a B when we thought they were "bad" parents. Tomorrow we will use these notes to discuss the story.

The FLASH group was to reread their book and write about one item mentioned in the book and what made that item special.

The ROY group needed to reread chapter 8 and answer the questions; Is Amber really upset because Justin threw the gum away? Explain your answer with support from the text. Then they were to read chapter 9.

I met with many students on an individual basis to review their reading response journal entries. I am focusing on getting more details and information into their written responses.

Tonight JGB needs to read for 15 choice....ROY needs to reread chapter 9 in Amber Brown and the FLASH group should reread the museum book and practice their flashcards.

Spelling homework is due Friday and we will take a spelling test!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Two Weeks 'till Thanksgiving

I can't believe that two weeks from today is Thanksgiving!! The days are flying by...

In math, today, we discussed using Metric units for linear measurement and converting these units. 10 millimeters=1 centimeter, 100 centimeters = 1 meter, 10 centimeters = 1 decimeter and 10 decimeters = 1 meter. We also compared and contrasted two different rulers so that the children could see that not all rulers begin their measurement at the edge of the ruler AND that some Metric rulers are labeled in millimeters not centimeters. You might want to search your house for rulers and compare and contrast them. The children have a subtraction worksheet for homework.

We were busy during reading!!! We collected and sorted /oe/ words and talked about word families...using base or root words and adding suffixes and/or prefixes to slightly change the meaning...ex. shoeless, we added -less (a suffix meaning without) to make the word that means without shoes. This appeared to be a new concept for the children. Therefore, we will spend more time discussing prefixes and suffixes next week.

After students chose /oe/ spelling words they worked on their reading group assignments. The ROY group read chapter 8 in Amber Brown. The Flash group began a new non-fiction book about a museum. The JGB group reread The Little Daughter of Snow.

Following lunch and recess, we went to the computer lab. In the computer lab, the children used the "hand out" folder on their computer to access a file that had links to various web sites of businesses we visited on our walking field trip of Damascus. We also practiced accessing our class blog! I encouraged students to visit our blog from home and leave a comment.

When we returned to the classroom, we passed out papers and I assigned reading homework. Then I introduced buddy journals.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wonderful Field Trip

We had a wonderful walking field trip of Damascus yesterday...Many thanks to Mrs. Witmer and Mrs. Brown for organizing the was VERY educational and ran extremely smoothly! Also, thank you to the many parents who accompanied us on the tour...your support was invaluable!

On the trip, we toured many places of business in Damascus, including, the Damascus Community Bank, the post office, Up County Realty, Nationwide Insurance and a few others, as well. The students got a first look at the behind the scenes functioning of these businesses and they began to understand how different businesses affect each other and impact the community and the economy in general. For example, at the real estate office, the poor housing market was discussed and it was shared how this also affects builders, parts distributors, etc...the whole "trickle-down" affect. Students also saw how organizational skills are important tools to acquire as they are needed to be successful in business.

Today, I am in a training session with the other third, fourth and fifth grade teachers. We are spending time observing, discussing and planning shared inquiry instruction that is used to help students think in a more divergent way. These skills are addressed in the Junior Great Books program but can be used with other literature as well.

The students are working with Mrs. Kriz, using the plans I left. During math, the students practiced measuring using inches. They also practiced converting units of measurement using inches, feet and yards.

During reading they read and discussed another issue of Time for Kids, focusing on the text features and HOW they aid comprehension. You might remember that we did a similar activity on Monday with a follow up in their reading response log...overall, the responses were not "strong" responses...I put feedback in every student's log and gave them an opportunity to use this feedback to improve their responses and turn it in a for a new grade. PLEASE talk to your child about this...I want them to use feedback to improve...that to me is good learning! :-)

Following PE, lunch and recess, the class will spend a good amount of time creating thank you cards for the businesses they visited yesterday. Some will even create a thank you card for,Washington Wizard, Gilbert Arenas as he has donated $1,000 of his personal money to our school.

Then the students will go to the media center for a book exchange.

As always, I appreciate all feedback from you (or the children!).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Starting anew...

In math today, we began unit 2. Right now our focus is linear measurement...primarily inches, feet, yards and miles. In class, the children used string and a ruler to measure curved lines. The curved lines presented some challenges that instigated some frustration but the children got plenty of practice using a ruler to measure. For homework, there is a worksheet, children will be deciding which unit of measurement would be best for the objects that are pictured.

Our primary focus in reading and writing this marking period will be "to inform"...reading and writing non-fiction. During reading, students used their Time for Kids, and in their reading logs, identified two text features (think, pictures, captions, bold faced print, maps, diagrams, etc.) and explained HOW these text features aided their comprehension. Then the students searched for more /oe/ words.

The Flash group met with me and we identified text features and discussed how they were helpful. Then I met with the JGB group and I read their next story, Little Daughter of the Snow, a Russian folktale, to them.

For homework, JGB need to reread the story, ROY needs to read chapter 7 of Amber Brown and FLASH needs to read for 15 choice!

Following art, lunch and recess the children will list topics they know a lot of facts about and start practicing writing to inform. Then they will watch part 4 of the Econ and Me series. This part deals with using resources to produce goods and services...this will definitely help us prepare for our walking field trip of Damascus tomorrow!

Friday, November 2, 2007

And it is November!?!?!

Hard to believe it is November already! Time flies when you are enjoying it! :-)

In math today we took the unit 2 preassessment. Prior to actually doing the pencil/paper task, we reviewed linear measurement and area and perimeter. I spent time explaining to the children that the preassessment is used to plan for instruction and is not graded. I told them that I needed to find out what they already know and what they don't know BEFORE I begin my instruction. Nevertheless, many students were uncomfortable since they didn't "know" the material. On Monday we will begin instruction on unit 2...some students will be switching math classes...many will remain where the already are placed.

In reading we identified verbs in the morning message. Then we identified text features in our Time for Kids. After that we began discussing HOW the text features help us understand the text. We began with a discussion on the importance of the date.

Prior to music, lunch and recess, we also voted on the Star Students for the month. There was a tie...Andy and Anna were voted the most responsible students and I couldn't agree more! Congratulations to both!

Following recess, the students will write thank you letters to the Rotary Club for the dictionaries they received on Tuesday. They will turn these letters into cards. Then they will continue with segment 3 in Econ and Me...they will learn about Consumption.

Our field trip is Tuesday, November 6. If you said you could chaperone, we'd love to have you!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Pics

Thanks to Mrs. Fitterer and all of her wonderful helpers for the wonderful Halloween are some pics...ENJOY!


This morning the students had a substitute. Mr. Vogel and I were in the building, participating in a training that focused on "standards-based" grading.

During that time, the children visited the media center for a book exchange. Then they worked on a Halloween themed activity packet.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the class will celebrate Halloween with a parade and party.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

End of Unit 1

Today all of the children took the unit 1 math assessment in their math classes. That took most of the morning. After that, Miss Jones read two Halloween stories to my class.

Following lunch and recess, a representative from the Rotary Club and Boy Scouts gave the children dictionaries and talked to them about "service". Then we watched the second segment of Econ and Me and discussed opportunity cost...ask your children what it is...(the choice you give up when choosing something else). Finally, Mrs. Howard came in to do a lesson about responsibility with the children.

Wow! Short blog today...why do I feel SO tired?!?!

Halloween parade and party begins at 2:15 tomorrow...costumes should be labelled with your child's name and brought in a bag.

Also, NO SPELLING this week...we will start a new spelling cycle next week! :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Insult to Injury...

Would you believe a student wore a Patriots sweatshirt to class today!?!?! Ahhhh!

Luckily our day today was far more productive and less painful than the Redskins' day yesterday...

In math, we went over the Unit 1 review packet in preparation for tomorrow's assessment. For homework students should go over the packet again.

After math, we identified nouns in the morning message. Then we searched in text for words with the /oe/ spelling pattern.

Following an extended art class (they worked with clay), lunch and recess, we continued reading Wishes, Kisses and Pigs. Ask your child about this story...Louise makes a wish on a shooting star and turns her brother into a pig. Today, she wished on a shooting star to turn a pig into a human and she turned a DIFFERENT pig (not her brother) into a's a good book!

Then students continued looking for /oe/ words and had a chance to finish any unfinished work while I pulled some students to work on reading flashcards. Then, in preparation for our Walking Field Trip of Damascus next Tuesday, we began watching a video program called Econ and Me. Today's segment covered resources and's a link (I think) to give some info...let me know if it is helpful...

Today the children are bringing home a permission slip for next week's field trip. They are also bringing home their last graded writing piece for this marking period. Please review it, sign it and return it to school tomorrow.

Remember...the Halloween parade and party is Wednesday at 2:15...and there is no school for students on Thursday!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Winding down...

Well, we are both winding down the week and the marking period! The end of marking period 1 is Wednesday. October 31. The children do not have school on Thursday (although I have to work...grab a tissue....I'll wait!). Marking period 2 will begin Friday, November 2.

As I reflect on the first marking period, I feel lucky to be working with such a great group of children. I won't lie...we've had our challenging moments but TRUTHFULLY I am really enjoying this group...they have a good work ethic (most of the time) and a great sense of humor. Most days are actually a lot of fun! We've had a lot of laughs and a lot of "ah-ha" moments when I can practically see the wheels turning in their heads as they learn something new.

Today, in math, we continued working on the review packet. We will go over it, in great detail, on Monday, in preparation for the assessment Tuesday.

After math, the students took their spelling test and we read and discussed the cover story in Time for Kids. The story was was about Afghan girls not being allowed to go to school and get an education until 2001 and the horrific conditions of their schools.

Following music, lunch and indoor recess, the students will write their third, and final, graded personal narrative. Then, I am hoping we will have time to finish our discussion about Afghan girls' education.

Remember that the Halloween parade and party starts at 2:15 on Wednesday, October 31. If you haven't sent in your $3 contribution, please do so.

BTW (by the way)...we did have a code blue/code red drill this was uneventful and went well! :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007


This afternoon we had a guest speaker, Officer Jacob from the MCPD, talk to the children about drugs...more importantly how to say NO to drugs.

Before that, the class visited the computer lab and learned how to save a document (and retrieve the document) in their "folder" that is on our school server.

Prior to lunch and indoor recess, we spent a lot of time investigating the dictionary ( a non-fiction resource text). We learned about using guide words and the "other" information that dictionaries provide (syllables, parts of speech, pronunciation, etc.) besides definitions. We also used guide words to locate three words in the dictionary. After that, the children worked independently on practice buddy check, cursive handwriting (capital A, O and D) and any other unfinished work they had. While they were doing that, I met with the ROY group to read and discuss chapter 6. I also worked on word chains with the FLASH group. The JGB group worked on a Story Opener, with me, in preparation for a new story. Additionally, some students had the opportunity to practice their reading one-on-one with Mrs. Bonvillain. It was a very productive chunk of time!!!

Before THAT, my math class worked on a review packet for the unit 1 assessment which will take place on Tuesday, October 30. We will continue work on the review packet tomorrow and go over it either tomorrow or Monday.

Remember that we have a spelling test tomorrow and that spelling homework is due, too! Also, please send in you $3 for the Halloween party, which is next Wednesday at 2:15. Also, there is no school for STUDENTS on Thursday, November 1. It is a report card prep day!

Did you notice that I reviewed the day in reverse?!?! Trying to keep you on your feet! ;-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Team Up to Say No to Drugs!

Many children participated in today's Red Ribbon Week spirit day by wearing their favorite team jerseys!

In math we spent a lot of time reviewing solving word problems. We talked about the importance of READING the problem and THINKING about what the actual problem is asking. Mrs. Starkey and I were both able to pull small groups to work on individual needs. AND...we both noticed that we saw many light bulbs "go off" in children's heads...

The unit assessment is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 30. We will begin working on a review packet tomorrow. There will NOT be a quiz this week. Students received a word problem worksheet for homework.

After reading, we identified verbs in the morning message. The students worked independently on various tasks, including a worksheet that had the children use a table of contents (non-fiction text feature) to answer specific questions. I was able to meet with the Roy reading group to begin reading and discussing chapter 6.

Following PE, lunch and recess, we review the table of contents worksheet as a class. We also listened as children shared their morning work journals. Then we went to an assembly.

Please remember to send in money for the Halloween party!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Put a Cap on Drugs!

Today students were allowed to wear hats to remind them to say NO to drugs...tomorrow students are encouraged to wear a jersey for their favorite team for Red Ribbon Week.

In math, we continued to practice identifying and completing numeric patterns. We also reviewed place value. Tomorrow we will review word problems.

During reading, we reviewed non-fiction text features, the table of contents and the index specifically. We also met in reading groups. Mrs. Isaacs helped with my FLASH group. The JGB group had a GREAT discussion about whether or not they thought Alice and the fisherman had troubles prior to the fisherman catching the enchanted fish...lots of good insight was shared using information from the text as support. The ROY group read chapters 5&6 independently and then we read chapter 5 as a group. We also had a nice discussion about Amber worrying herself sick with the thought of Justin moving away.

Following lunch and recess, the children worked in reading groups and on independent work a bit more. Then we shared our morning work journals. After that, we practiced creating our own graphic organizer to plan our writing. Following a Red Ribbon Week activity and a read aloud, it was time for home!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Ribbon Week

We will be celebrating Red Ribbon Week this week with many different activities to remind students to say NO to drugs! This morning we signed a pledge and this afternoon we will hang it in the hallway. Thanks to Mrs. Howard, we have a variety of activities to get this important message across to the children!

In math class this morning, we reviewed identifying the rule and completing decreasing numeric patterns. Many students are still struggling with this concept. There is a worksheet for homework that provides more practice. Additionally, I met with a group of students to further practice this skill.

The students will also be bringing home their graded math quiz from last Thursday. PLEASE review it with you child and sign the top. If you see areas where your child struggled, feel free to create similar problems by switching the numbers. This is one way you can help your child.

During reading we spent time listing and discussing different text features in non-fiction text. We also discussed the many ways we might read to be informed....for example, reading a menu at a restaurant, signing up for piano lessons, reading directions to play a computer game, etc. WE also used text features to read and comprehend a book called Those Fabulous Frogs. Tomorrow we will begin dictionary skills and using the table of contents and an index to get information in non-fiction text.

Following art, lunch and recess, we changed jobs, added work to our Braggin' Dragon board and visited the Book Fair...beware...your children have LONG wish lists from the book child's list totals $'s a hint...I taught this student's older sibling!!

After that, we began a new read aloud entitled Wishes, Kisses and Pigs. It's about a girl who turns her brother into a pig...if only... Then we did a Red Ribbon Week activity.

The children do have a reading comprehension homework sheet to complete tonight and spelling homework is due this we have a spelling test on Friday!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Few End of the Week Thoughts

While rereading my blog for the past week I realized I failed to give proper thanks to Mrs. Isaacs. Mrs. Isaacs volunteered in the classroom on Tuesday and was the reason I was able to meet with all reading groups...THANKS!!!! Sorry I forgot to than you in a timely manner!

The book fair is in our school next week. We will visit it, as a class, on Monday afternoon. The students can return to purchase books, on their own, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mrs. Fitterer is busily planning our Halloween Party. I believe a note went home on Thursday. PLEASE send in money ASAP...the party seems like a lot of work. While I have never planned one, thank goodness, I am always amazed at how much time and effort the room parents put into the parties. So, thank you, in advance, to Mrs. Fitterer and anyone else helping to plan our Halloween party.

Our third grade walking field trip is planned for November 6. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Witmer are hard at work on planning this big event. Look for more information in the near future. We will need a few extra parents to tag along...personally, I am looking forward to it this year...this will be my third walking field trip and the FIRST when I am not at least 7 months pregnant! Woohoo!

Finally, I forgot to make hard copies of the blog this week...I had good intentions...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Staff Development

One of the many opportunities afforded to teachers to better themselves is through staff development release time. Montgomery County Public Schools provides teachers with a specified amount of time, for which they provide subs, for teachers to meet with specialists in order to better themselves professionally. Today was one such day for me!

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what a day might be like for a teacher during staff development time. Keep in mind, this is merely a glimpse and it is not set in stone...

This morning we discussed student's progress and strategies we have used with specific students and new strategies to try. Then we went through math resource books and differentiated selected activities so that they would meet the needs of more learners and fit the county's curriculum. This afternoon we will continue creating tiered lessons using our curriculum guides and the resource books. We will also plan out the second math unit and reflect on our math groupings to determine how effective they have been.

Needless to say, these staff development days are jam packed!

Today your children were in the very-capable hands of Mrs. Kriz. In math they took a quiz. I will do my best to grade it over the weekend and return it on Monday. During reading, the children selected new spelling words with the -er SOUND. They also practiced using correct capitalization and reading comprehension skills.

Following lunch they will visit the computer lab to create a document of their choice using Microsoft Word or Paint. Then they will read and discuss the current issue of Time for Kids.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

That's what we are in here...BUSY! Getting lots accomplished, though!

I finally got the second set of personal narratives graded. Look for those in home folders today! I was very impressed with the students' writing...I saw many GREAT beginnings that truly grabbed my attention and made me want to read on! I also saw excellent use of sensory images to describe their experiences.

In math today, we created another bar graph using data provided. Once again, the students had to use the data to determine an appropriate scale. Additionally, we discussed writing labels for their graphs that matched the data. For example, looking at last night's homework, the numbers represented the number of STUDENTS not the number of sports.

While the students worked independently, I was able to work with a small group on identifying numerical patterns and continuing that pattern. Homework tonight is to review LAST week's quiz in preparation for tomorrow's quiz...the quiz will cover the same skills addressed in the same manner using different numbers.

During reading, students continued to identify words with the -er sound in them. Then, as a group, we sorted them according to the spelling of the -er sound (whether it was spelled -er, -ir, -ur, etc.) Additionally, I met with the FLASH group to read and discuss their book.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the class had an opportunity to share their writing while students had a bathroom and drink break.

Then we continued the writing lesson from yesterday. Students looked through their writer's notebook at various personal narratives. They selected a sentence that wasn't very descriptive and added more details where appropriate. I think that by having the children focus on one sentence at a time it made the process less overwhelming and possibly even a little fun?!?!

Finally, we used chromatography to determine which candy left a smudge on a "candy machine". This was our final experiment in the Crime Lab science unit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Miss me?

I tried to blog yesterday but to no avail...

I had to leave early to take my 6 year old, Michael, to the doctor. So I was unable to blog at lunch. When I tried to blog last night, the server for Blog Spot was down. Oh well!

In math we are reviewing three digit subtraction when regrouping is needed in more than one column. We are also creating bar graphs using data that is provided. Yesterday we spent time talking about the scales on a bar when they created their own bar graph, the children needed to realize that the scale had to count by tens. All graphs must include a title and labels. When numbering the graph, children need to number the lines, not the spaces.

During reading I was able to meet with every reading group! YEY! I had a wonderful discussion with both my JGB and ROY's so much fun to discuss the characters in fiction and hear what students think about their actions. The JGB group spent a lot of time discussing greediness while the ROY group spent time discussing how the mood of the characters changed from the beginning to the end of chapter 4. My FLASH group was still in the middle of reading with me when it was time to go to lunch.

The students also searched for words with the -er SOUND and practiced writing the letters n, m and v in cursive.

This afternoon we will finish our reading instruction from the morning. We will also begin to edit some of our writing. Then we will explore the Earth's physical geography by watching a video using United Streaming.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"The Blog" in hard copy...

Today I am sending home this week's blogs on paper...I am going to TRY to do this each week...BUT please help me save a tree...if you do NOT need it in hard copy (paper form), let me know...

End of the Week

It's really starting to feel like fall...I LOVE this weather!! Hope you are enjoying it, too.

As I sit and reflect upon this past week, I am so proud of the hard work and effort I witnessed this week...

Today, in math, we took a quiz. They have been graded and will be coming home this weekend. Please look them over, sign them and have your child return it on Monday.

During reading, we identified proper nouns and took our second spelling test. These, too, have been graded and will be coming home this need to sign or return them, though.

Following music, lunch and recess, the students will complete their second graded personal narrative. I will be looking for an obvious beginning, middle and end. I will also be assessing their use of the word wall and their spelling of long e words. I will try to grade these over the weekend and return them on promises, though! :-)

Have a wonderful weekend...

Remember the Homeless Walk is next Tuesday during recess and there is no school next Friday!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Humming along...

Routines have been established and students are adjusting to the third grade way and life seems to be "humming along"... Meeting with small groups has become the norm and children are being more productive during independent work example from today...

During reading, while I met with individual students and with small groups, the students needed to meet in their small groups to take their "practice buddy check", then each group had a reading assignment and then the children could work on unfinished work or anchor activities.

Well, the room was buzzing quite loudly in the beginning...I thought to myself that if the students were truly on task, that the room would naturally quiet down as groups completed their buddy checks and moved onto their reading assignments...and that is exactly what happened. One by one, the groups finished their buddy checks and the room quieted down as students settled into various places (their desks, the book corner, the closet, etc.) to read their assigned texts. It really was nice to be able to work with students while the rest of the class was being productive.

OK...I guess you might be wondering what was happening academically, huh? In math, the students created BAR GRAPHS using the data table that they used to construct their pictographs. While the students were working on their graphs, Mrs. Starkey and I met with small groups focusing on identifying numeric patterns and rounding three digit numbers to the nearest ten.

We began reading by identifying verbs in the morning message...

Then I met with students individually and in small groups while the other students did their practice buddy checks and read their assigned text selections. The JGB group reread The Fisherman and his Wife, placing sticky notes labeled with an F in places they thought the Fisherman was being unkind to his wife and placing an A in places they thought his wife was unkind to him. The FLASH group reread A Sticky Problem, practiced their flashcards worked on word chains and began a new book. The ROY group had met with me yesterday afternoon to reread chapter 2 and discuss it. So, today they did a first reading of chapters 3 and 4. Tonight, for homework, each group is expected to do a reread of their assigned selections for at least 15 minutes.

Word chains...using a white board we begin with a word. Then the students write a new word below the first word by changing just one word or sound...I should have taken a picture of this, huh? Anyway, an example would be: hop, hot, hat, hit, hip, ship, etc.

This afternoon, we went to the computer lab and the students spent time exploring the Paint software package. Next week I plan to create pictures using Paint and teach the children how to save a document (the picture they create) in their own documents folder.

After the computer lab, Mrs. Howard, along with helpers from Sallie Mae, will prepare the children for the Homeless Walk which will take place in school next Tuesday during recess.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time Marches On...

Ever wish you had more time to get things done? We had such a productive morning, yet it seems like we never have enough time...

In math, we began with a formative that covered estimation and pictographs. Please review it with your child this evening. We also went over the pictograph we had done in class yesterday. I took time to talk about common errors that were made. Then I assigned the exact same pictograph for homework tonight. Tomorrow, I plan to have the children use the pictograph to create a bar graph showing the exact same data.

During reading, I met with my JGB group and began a new story, The Fisherman and His Wife. We did a story opener activity...ask you children (if they are in this group) about it...MANY said they would NOT wish for a million dollars because their parents don't need it! Good to know! LOL! My Roy group will meet with me after lunch but they were answering a BCR (brief constructed response) in their reading log. My Flash group was also answering a BCR in their reading logs.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the students will continue working on their reading assignments or meeting with me in their reading groups. They will also work on writing personal narratives. We will be doing another graded personal narrative on Friday.

Then Mrs. Howard will be visiting us for a Stop and Think lesson!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Parent Conferences

Parent conferences are approaching quickly...many of you have signed up BUT if missed Back to School Night and haven't signed up at some other time when you were in the school, then you probably need to do so...

As of right now, I have 11/9 at 2:45, 3:00 and 3:15 open and I have 11/12 at 2:30, 3:15 and 3:30 open.

If you want one of those times, send me an e-mail at

Proud as a Peacock

I am so proud of, you really can "see" what is going on in the classroom...I have been able to use my digital camera to take pictures and upload them to the blog...woo hoo!

As you can see, in math we continued working on graphing. We constructed a class pictograph displaying the number of birthdays in each month. Then the children created their own individual pictograph displaying favorite flavors of ice cream.
Everyone was busy during reading. My JGB group finished up their first story with a writing piece. They had to decide whether or not they would want the Master Cat for a pet and then use the text to support their answer. The ROY group read chapters 1 and 2 of Amber Brown is Not a Crayon. We will discuss these tomorrow. Finally, my FLASH group read A Sticky Problem and worked on -ink words.

While everyone is expected to read for 15 minutes every night, tonight I expect ROY to reread Amber Brown... and FLASH to reread A Sticky Problem.

The entire class worked on a cursive handwriting paper (q, c, and o) and a Plural?singular Noun paper.

After lunch and recess, we will finish up a few loose ends from this morning and then go to a cultural arts assembly. Andes Manta will be performing!

Is there anyone who wants to volunteer in the classroom? I could use an adult to read with children on Tuesday from 11-12:30, Wednesday from 10:50-11:40 and Friday from 10:50-11:40. If you want to volunteer, just drop me a note!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Open House

This morning was the annual MCPS Open House for parents to visit their children "in action". I hope the parents who were able to visit, found their time well spent and were pleased with their students progress.

In math, we went to the computer lab. We created a data chart that indicated the number of dogs, cats, fish and birds our math class has as pets. Then we used that data to create a bar graph using Graph Club, a software package. We spent time creating a title, labels and playing around with the numeric scale of the graph. Students printed a copy to take home. Ask your child to identify elements needed on a graph (title, labels...) and have them show you them on their graph! Also, wee if they can explain the numeric scale to you. Their homework for tonight is to get their quiz signed.

In reading we reviewed and identified pronouns and nouns. We also began reading George Washington's Breakfast by Jean Fritz. We will finish reading it this afternoon and discuss whether it is fiction or non fiction.

I also promised the class that we could do some research about George Washington's era using the Internet...the children had many questions which I was unable to answer!

Our class also went to art today and will go to the media center for a book exchange this afternoon!

If time permits, we will begin editing and revising our personal narratives.

Quick Weekend Update

Wow! The Octoberfest was a blast! My children thoroughly enjoyed themselves..and so did I! I just want to publicly thank our awesome PTA for a fantastic afternoon!

Also, I wanted to give a brief update to my math class...

overall, I was pleased with the progress that the children demonstrated on our most recent math quiz. However, I am sensing that many students are dealing with some math anxiety. Since we still have one "section" left in this unit (graphing and data analysis), on Friday, I let the kids vote. They had the choice to begin graphing on Monday (today) or to continue with word problems. I truly felt like the class needed a break...and apparently I was right.

The class voted to move onto graphing today. We will revisit word problems, patterns and place value, but this will give the children a bit of a break...hopefully! :-)

A couple of children didn't want to move on yet. So, in an effort to meet everyone's needs, I promised that my small group instruction would focus on word problems, rounding and place value.

I do hope this gives, you, the family, a glimpse into what is going on in our classroom...

Remember, I encourage you to leave your opinions, questions or comments on this blog...I want it to be interactive!! :-)

Friday, October 5, 2007

End of the Week

With the end of the week comes our math quiz. While I haven't graded these, as I walked around during the quiz I was pleased to note MANY improvements. I am looking forward to grading these over the weekend. I think they will demonstrate the amount of growth the kids have made. Hard work pays off!

After math, we reviewed and identified nouns and pronouns Then we discussed non fiction text and text features (captions, photographs, bold print, headings, titles, to name a few) and identified some text features as we read and discussed the current issue of Time for Kids.

Following music, lunch and recess, the students will work on writing fantastic endings for their personal narratives and identify geographic features that can be seen from the front steps of our school.

See you Sunday at the Octoberfest or Monday at Parent Visitation! Remember book orders are due Monday!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


YEY Class!

My homeroom did super during lunch and recess today! They did so well they earned free seating tomorrow, they were first for snack, they were first to go to recess, they got a good report to me AND now they get a good report on the blog! Woo hoo!

Grumpy Mrs. Holman :-) my math class is probably hating me right now...we had what I thought was a good discussion about how we all need to put effort into our learning and that I know they are all capable, etc. etc. Then when we were doing a practice worksheet I had students who had blank worksheets...even after the answers had been written on the white board AND students who admitted that they hadn't read the problem. So, as you can imagine, we stopped and talked about THIS...and I was a bit grumpy! There is a worksheet (2 sided) for homework tonight and a quiz that will include numeric patterns, place value, rounding and a word problem.

After math, the students chose new spelling words, identified pronouns and learned 3 new cursive letters (a, d, and g). During that time, students practiced their flashcards, I met with a group and began reading Amber Brown is Not a Crayon and discussed character traits AND got my Junior Great Books group doing a reread of The Master Cat with partners. They also had a follow up worksheet to complete.

This afternoon we will head to the computer and use Microsoft Word to write a caption for a picture that is inserted into a document. Yes, we did this last week but I discovered some areas of confusion that need to be cleared up! The children weren't comfortable with getting text and/or pictures on their documents in the location that they wanted them. So I will be addressing using the space bar, the enter button and the tab key.

Following the computer lab, I had planned on continuing the writing lesson from yesterday. We focused on writing great beginnings to our personal narratives. Today I was hoping to talk about endings...but I might finish up the spelling and reading lessons from this morning...we'll see how alert they are after recess!

Remember...Octoberfest is Sunday...Parent Visitation is Monday...AND book orders are due Monday!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Oh...the frustration....

I hate to begin a post in such a negative manner. I do enjoy my job and I love the children, but some days can be a bit more trying than others. So as you read this, please know that sometimes I need to share my frustrations in order to move on!

Math class was a started with children coming up to me and saying that they are struggling with word problems. I am SO glad they felt comfortable enough to share this with me. That is GOOD...But (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) I got the general feeling from many students that since they didn't "get it" yesterday and since the homework provided a challenge, they were telling me they couldn't do it and they were moving on...UGH!

I spent a good deal of time (and energy) both yesterday and today discussing that estimation is typically "uncomfortable" for children AND that the word "about" means you need to estimate. However, students are still NOT estimating and even when we reviewed the warm up this morning AND the formative, children still raised their hand and asked if the exact answer was okay to have...ever feel like NOBODY is listening to you?!?!?!

Math homework tonight is to review the formative with an adult...PLEASE go over the formative but not as a punishment or a "gotcha" your child realize what they did incorrectly and discuss what they can do differently next time. Also, PLEASE explain how important it is to KEEP TRYING and NOT give up...the more they practice the easier the work will up is NOT an option!

Reading was a lot less stressful! :-) We identified different types of nouns and began working on pronouns. I introduced pronouns as words that take the place of nouns. After that we sorted -ea words according to sound. Then we began a brief discussion of non-fiction text.

Following PE, lunch and recess, we will continue writing personal narratives focusing on making sure our writing has a beginning, middle and end. Then we will talk about what a geographer does and categorize parts of our geography as natural vs. human made.

Book orders are due by Monday. Monday is also Open House or Parent Visitation Day. This is a chnace for you to visit our classroom and see us in action. Don't forget, the Octoberfest is Sunday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

No...I didn't pay him!

Guess my mom is sharing my blog with friends and family! I do enjoy the feedback...but, no, I didn't pay my brother for his sweet comment!

Okay, on to today and YOUR children...(it isn't all about me, right!?!?!)

In math today, we talked about using rounding to make estimates. We also spent a lot of time discussing the word "about" and that if the students were asked "about how many" or asked for an estimate, they had to give an estimate...NOT the exact answer. This is a concept that tends to make children uncomfortable. They are always told to give the "right" answer and then we throw them a curve ball and ask them to estimate... Their homework paper tonight is VERY similar to their classwork. Please encourage your child to refer to the classwork if they get stuck!

In between math and reading, we had a fire drill...our first unannounced, I think!

During reading, students participated in different activities based on their reading assessment data...let's call these reading groups, although I do not name them and they become fluid...the groups are not always the same children. I often switch children around based on the activity or their recent performance on independent work, assessments, etc. or my own goals for the lesson.

The Junior Great Books group met with me first. They listened and followed along as I read The Master Cat out loud. Then they independently reread the story, marking with post-it notes, selections which they found surprising or funny. This is referred to as reading with directed notes.

Another group reread Bread and Jam for Frances, then identified one character trait for Frances and supported their trait with 2 pieces of evidence from the story. They did this in their reading response journal.

Finally, another group worked on sight words and began reading King Beast's Birthday with me. Then they reread the selection at their seats and they are supposed to reread it again, at home, tonight. We also added new flashcards to their envelopes.

All students worked on a punctuation and capitalization activity and practiced writing "h" and "k" in cursive.

Following lunch and recess, students will get some time to complete any unfinished work from this morning. I will then model writing a personal narrative, emphasizing the beginning, middle and end. Finally, I am hoping to get to a science experiment using Chromatography.

Mrs. Howard is sending home information for the Homeless Walk today. She stopped by to talk to the kids for a few minutes before lunch. The children are also getting a new book order form. Orders are due on or before Monday, October 8. Remember that checks must be made payable to Scholastic Books. And, of course, the Octoberfest is THIS Sunday from 11:30-3:30.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hard Work Pays Off!

It's been a day full of good news!

This morning I was able to grade the math quizzes from Friday. I saw many students show great progress in their knowledge! YEY!!!!! The quizzes should be signed by an adult family member and returned tomorrow.

In math we spent the day solving word problems. We focused on identifying "key words" that helped us decide whether to add or subtract in order to solve the problem.

In reading we reviewed common, proper and plural nouns. We also read Bread and Jam for Frances and identified words with the ea spelling pattern. Then we sorted the words according to the sound that the -ea made....for example, the ea in beans, veal and treat sounds the same while the -ea in bread and breakfast have a different sound.

After that it was off to art, lunch and recess.

The afternoon began with a read aloud and the class voting for Jenna as the Star Student for September. She earned this by displaying exemplary listening and respectskills! Congratulations to Jenna, as well as, Brandon, Luke and Andy who were her fellow nominees.

Then we discussed the reading homework worksheet that will help the students work on their reading comprehension skills. This is due tomorrow. I am going to try to add this to our homework repertoire 1-2 times per week.

Finally, we reviewed our writing focus for this marking period, Personal Narratives. I was pleased that the students could identify this as our focus AND they seemed to remember a lot of what they learned about sensory images! After 20 minutes of independent writing practice, some students had the chance to share their writing. Then we concluded the day with a book exchange in the media center.

Don't forget that the Oktoberfest is this Sunday from 11:30-3:30. I am planning to arrive around 1:00 and will stay as long as my kiddies allow...before they embarrass me too much...just kidding...or at least I hope I am kidding! :-0

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