Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another busy day!

It is such a great feeling when a lot gets accomplished!

Today I was able to begin a group of students in the Junior Great Books program. We read and discussed a poem to prepare ourselves for the story we will read. I was also able to work with children on sight words and get another group started reading Strega Nona in pairs. While all of this was going on, the children did practice buddy checks in preparation for their spelling test tomorrow and they learned how to write an "l" and a "b" in cursive. They also practiced writing proper nouns using capital letters.

Math was productive, too! As a group we reviewed rounding two and three digit numbers to the nearest ten. Then Mrs. Starkey took a small group to further practice rounding numbers while I took another group to practice subtraction when double regrouping is required. Some students worked independently on rounding three digit numbers. Tomorrow's math quiz will cover numeric patters, subtraction and addition with regrouping, place value and some rounding.

This afternoon we will visit the computer lab. We will continue to explore Microsoft Word. I am hoping students will learn how to import pictures into a document, add a caption and then print the document.

After that, Mrs. Howard will be doing a Stop and Think lesson on respect with our class.

Tomorrow is an early release day. I will not be here tomorrow...I have to take Jason to the doctor for his chronic ear infections. Mrs. Webber will be here in my place...she's awesome! And...there won't be a blog! :-(

Math Night is tonight...I won't be able to make it...but the Octoberfest is Sunday, October 7 and I will be there with my children...and maybe my mom, too! :-) (hint, hint, mom...if you are still reading!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hump Day

This morning we took a formative in math. The class, as a whole, was not ready for the rounding formative but I wanted to maintain our routine so the formative covered subtraction and patterns. After reviewing the formative as a class, we began to tackle rounding to the tens column with THREE digit numbers. Our quiz on Friday will have some rounding but only using two digit numbers. The rest of the quiz will include addition and subtraction, place value and patterns.

During our reading block, we used the morning message to locate common, proper and plural nouns. See if your child can identify any in a newspaper, magazine or book. Then we read The Empty Pot and discussed how the story elements come together to create a story. After that, the students identified a character trait for Ping, the main character, and used events from the text to support their answer. This was done in their reading log.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the students will discuss strategies for what to do when they get stuck for ideas to write about. They will also have time to work on using sensory images in their personal narratives, in their writing journal. Then we will discuss chromatography.

Friday is our first spelling test and spelling homework is due, too. It is also an early release day. Thursday night is Math Game Night and the PTA sponsored Octoberfest is Sunday, October 7.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Okay...we are getting somewhere....

Today, in math, we reviewed rounding to the tens column. There is a worksheet for homework.

During the reading block, students read a book, assigned by me and determined by their reading data. Then they diagrammed the plot of the book in their reading logs. They also read Time for Kids and chose an article to use to complete a worksheet. Finally, they learned the letters u, w and e in cursive. The students were VERY productive and I was proud of them. It also allowed me to met with reading groups. Some children will be bringing home books and/or flashcards to practice reading tonight. Please ask them about the plot of their book.

After lunch and recess we will make a list of possible entries for their writer's notebook. I will also share some of their peers' writing that uses good sensory images. AND...I will hand back their graded writing assignment.

Then we will read and discuss an article called Nutshell Economics.

Remember....Thursday night is Math Game Night and Friday is an early release day. The students will be dismissed at 1:00.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Afternoon

FYI...The graded writing assignments will NOT be coming home today...I PROMISE to hand them back tomorrow! Sorry!

Also...homework for tonight: Spelling (due Friday), math, AND students should share their Brave Irene plot papers with you...ask them to explain the parts of the plot...We talked about the Introduction being the "beginning", the rising action, climax and falling action being the "middle" and the denouement being the solution or the "end".

Sad, sad Monday

Had a great weekend UNTIL approximately 6:00 pm last night...still can't stomach that loss...I have outlawed the newspaper and the news from the house for the day...I don't even want to think about THAT! (For anyone who is confused, I am talking about a certain sporting even that began at 4:15 on Sunday...see I can't even mention the "f" word or the "r" word....)

Luckily, our morning began with individual student pictures, so talk about the "f" game was VERY limited. After that, in math, we began rounding numbers to the nearest ten. Ask your children to share with you my two hand strategy for remembering which numbers round up and which round down. If they don't remember it, remind them to pay special attention when I review it in class tomorrow so they can share it with you tomorrow night! Homework tonight is a subtraction paper...we were not ready to practice rounding on our own. :-)

During reading, we discussed the plot of a story, including the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action and the resolution (denouement). Then we read Brave Irene, by William Steig. After reading it as a class, I split the students into groups of three, gave them a copy of the book and a worksheet for them to complete. They reread the book and then worked together to correctly place the events from Brave Irene into the Story Plot Graph. We will share their answers after art, lunch and recess.

This afternoon, I am planning to pass back their graded writing pieces. Look for these in their binders! We will also (hopefully!) identify goods and services in The Big Green Pocketbook and go to the media center for a book exchange. We will get new class jobs, too!

Thursday night is Family Math Night. Another flyer is going home this evening.

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's Frrrriiiiiddddaaaayyyy....

This morning we started with our weekly math quiz. I am happy to report that the grades are much improved! Please look the quiz over, sign it and return it to school on Monday.

After that, we read and discussed Time for Kids. We focused on identifying paragraphs (through indentations) and how a caption helps us understand a picture.

Then it was off to music, lunch and recess.

This afternoon, the children will be writing their first graded writing assignment. It will be a personal narrative and an experience of their choice. I am looking forward to reading these!

Remember that individual pictures will be taken on Monday. Also, Math Night is must reserve a spot if you plan to come!

Have a wonderful weekend watching the Skins STOMP on the Giants!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Remember...we learn from our mistakes!!!

Very busy, chaotic AND productive morning, which I would not have made it through without the help of Mrs. Bonvillain!!!! Please keep reading to discover MY pertains to spelling homework.

In math, we review numeric patterns. We discussed that discovering the rule (and writing it in the box) should be done before finishing the pattern. We also focused on USING THE RULE to find the missing numbers in the pattern. We have a quiz tomorrow that covers place value, subtraction with regrouping and numeric patterns.

Our reading block was dedicated to spelling. The students found their own long e words and then sorted them according to spelling. After that we compiled a class list. Then, the fun began...

I reviewed (and reviewed...) the entire spelling process. Here are some highlights...
Students will choose 5 (or 6 or 7) words from the class list. If they choose 5 the other 2 will be words they missed on previous spelling tests....this week they chose 7 since we don't have any spelling tests to pull missed words from...Then an adult will help them choose 3 words, from their Writer's Notebook, that they spelled incorrectly. These words will be added to their lists, for a total of 10 words. One list will be glued into their spelling journal. The other list will be put into the spelling section of their binder.

Here's the mistake...I passed out the wrong homework explanation sheet on Back to School Night. There will not be a form each cycle for parents to sign. Instead, today, students will be given a new homework explanation sheet (for spelling) it will be glued into the front of their spelling journal. Another copy of the SAME document will be put into the spelling section of their binder.

They will need to do 5 spelling homework assignments EACH cycle. These assignments SHOULD be done in their spelling journal and then handed in on the same day as the spelling test. However, the assignments CAN be done on notebook paper and stapled together and then turned in the day of the spelling test. The only thing I will ask parents to sign is the spelling pre-test, which counts as one of the 5 homework assignments.

I will go over all of this with the class this afternoon...don't hesitate to post questions or e-mail me privately!

This afternoon, we will visit the computer lab. I am hoping to introduce the children to Microsoft Word...that should be a breeze after spelling this morning! LOL!!!!

After that, we will review the spelling homework. We will begin the first graded writing assignment tomorrow...I don't think we'd see their best writing today! :-)

Remember, individual pictures are Monday. Next Friday is an early release is also the day of our first spelling test!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Formative Wednesday

This morning, in math, we took our second formative...that is an ungraded quiz that is used to help me plan my teaching and help the students know what they need to work on. The formative will be sent home. Please review it to help your child prepare for our Friday math quiz. This Friday's quiz will feature numeric patterns but will also include addition and subtraction and place value.

If you are looking for more practice in math, check out the third grade web has links to many math web sites! Another good idea is to use the formative as a guide and create similar problems using different numbers. Finally, try going to and just entering a concept (ex. number patterns) you'd be surprised what you will find!

After math, we put our long e words into categories according to the way the long e sound was spelled. Then, the students used books and 3x5 post-it notes to locate and record long e words on their own. Tomorrow we will sort them and pick our first individuals set of spelling words.

Following PE, lunch and recess, we will continue practicing using sensory images (descriptive words) in our writing. We will also review capitalization and punctuation rules. Tomorrow, the students will be doing their first piece of graded writing in class.

After writing, we will identify goods and services in The Big Green Pocketbook...yes, we haven't gotten to that yet!

Thanks for returning the Highlights forms! If you haven't done that yet, please do so soon! Individual pictures are Monday, 9/24...and the Redskins will beat the Giants at 4:15 on Sunday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 teaching!

That's been my mantra since I heard it about it a year ago...

I keep telling the children that my job is to teach them new skills and concepts and their job is to STOP my teaching as soon as they are confused, lost or a lesson doesn't make sense. This is so important since many times, just answering a quick question or redoing a problem can clear up an issue very quickly! Please reiterate this at home.

During math, we continued to complete numeric problems and identify the rule. We also went over the quiz! Many students were surprised and disappointed when they received their graded quiz. I am hoping it is a jolt to some...I firmly believe that this is a bright group of children...unfortunately, focusing is a challenge for many! Please review the quiz, sign the top of it and return it to school.

During reading, my homeroom went to the computer lab to take the MAP-R test. It is a computerized reading test that adjusts its questions to fit the student's ability as they take the test. The data is another tool I will use to guide my instruction.

Following the MAP-R, we reread parts of Miss Rumphius and listened for words that had the long e sound in them. Tomorrow we will sort these words.

Following lunch and recess we will discuss and identify goods and services mentioned in the book The Big Green Pocketbook. Then we will go to an assembly featuring Billy B, the singing and dancing science guy.

Please remind students to read every night for at least 15 minutes.

Individual pictures are scheduled for next Monday, 9/24.

One more, students in my homeroom will be bringing home an order form for Highlights magazine. Our classroom can earn free prizes for EVERY form that is returned with a PARENT SIGNATURE...even if you already order it or do not wish to order it, please mark the blank next to "No", SIGN your name and return the form. Thanks!

Monday, September 17, 2007


As shared at Back-to-School Night, we began our first cycle of spelling today. Please refer to the Back-to-School packet for details or feel free to e-mail me with any questions. Our first exploration will be a SOUND exploration. We will be looking at the many ways the "long e" wound can be spelled. Students will get their individual spelling lists on Thursday and their homework activities lists, as well. The spelling test will be NEXT Friday, 9/28 and homework will be due at that time, too!

In math today, we began investigating numeric patterns. Students needed to complete a pattern and write the rule for it. For example, for the pattern, 4, 7, 10, 13, the rule would be increasing by 3. During the whole group instruction, students indicated they had a good grasp on this skill. Unfortunately, MANY who were not pulled into small groups did not focus during the independent work time and were unable to complete their work. These students have two worksheets for homework. :-( Some students were pulled into small groups for work with 3 digit subtraction with regrouping and using place value to order 4 digit numbers.

Prior to going to art, we read Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. WE will revisit it to search for words with the "long e" sound and to discuss how the main character, Miss Rumphius, changes from the beginning to the end of the story.

This afternoon, we will use visual sensory images to capture a scene in our writing. We will also read The Big Green Pocketbook and identify good and services in the book. Finally, we will visit the media center for a book exchange!

Math quizzes, from my math class, will come home graded tomorrow. I apologize for the delay!

Friday, September 14, 2007's Friday!

It was weird coming back to school today after a day kind of feels like it should be Monday but it is Friday!

In math we split into small groups and reviewed place value and three digit subtraction with regrouping. Then we took our first quiz...look for the quiz to come home either today or Monday.

After math, we went to the media center for the last lesson in our Cynthia Rylant author study. Today Mrs. Rose helped us make connections between books and we discussed how that can enrich our comprehension of texts we read.

Then we went to music, lunch and recess.

After recess, we will use fingerprints to help us solve a "crime". Then Mrs. Howard, the new guidance counselor, will visit us to do a Stop and Think lesson for good listening skills.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kind of like a Friday?!?!

In honor of the Jewish New Year, we do not have school tomorrow... We do have school on Friday, though!

I really enjoyed seeing so many parents at Back to School Night last night. I hope you found it informative...and possibly a bit entertaining?!?! We really do have a great group of kids and I KNOW it is going to be a fabulous year!!!!

Today, in math, we took our first formative assessment. All assessments are used to drive instruction. The main difference between a formative assessment and a quiz is that a formative is NOT graded and recorded in my grade book. The students grade their own formative, with a "special" marking pen, and we discuss good answers as we review it. I am trying to give a math formative every Wednesday and then a follow up quiz (which will be graded) on Fridays.

After math, my homeroom went to the media center to continue their Cynthia Rylant author study and discuss "mood" in fiction. Then they went to PE, lunch and recess...not a bad morning!

This afternoon, we will read The Listening Walk, and discuss hearing as a sensory image used in writing. We will also try to incorporate sensory images into our writing. Following that, we will use patterns in fingerprints to solve a "crime". It's going to be a fun afternoon!

There will not be any homework tonight due to the holiday!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We learn from our mistakes...

I wanted to take a moment to address Monday night's math homework. As I sat down to check over the children's papers this morning, I thought to myself, "Why did I assign this?" I liked the practice it provided with writing numbers in both expanded and word form, but, in hindsight, it was too long and didn't allow the students enough space to complete the work neatly. I apologize if it created any undo frustration!

An additional homework note...I find that Back to School Night can create some additional chaos at home...getting the kids squared away, getting your self out the door, etc., etc. Therefore, most of my math students do not have math homework...a few do...they were the ones who were not completely focused during their independent work time!

Today, in math, we continued our practice of two and three digit subtraction with regrouping. We also had a group reviewing place value.

After math, my homeroom returned to the media center to continue their author study (Cynthia Rylant) with Mrs. Rose. Mrs. Rose spent time discussing how illustrations help us understand stories. After that, we reread The Great Gracie Chase, by Cynthia Rylant, and identified the events in the story. We also learned about "mountain climbers", a category of cursive letters that include "i" and "t".

Following lunch and indoor recess, we will talk about sensory images in writing. We will also begin our study of Economics by introducing the concepts of human, natural and capital resources, as well as, natural and man made features.

Don't forget...Back to School Night is TONIGHT at 7:00!

Monday, September 10, 2007

What do you know about Cynthia Rylant?

This morning we began our first author study. Mrs. Rose, our new media specialist, will be conducting lessons all week, with our class, as we study Cynthia Rylant. Ask your child what he/she learned today...ask what they found out about West Virginia and animals.

In math, we reviewed four digit place value and solved two and three digit subtraction problems, with and without regrouping. Students in my math class received a place value worksheet for homework.

This afternoon, following art, lunch and recess, we will begin talking about creating sensory images in writing. Sensory images would include descriptive words that "paint pictures inside the reader's minds" regarding what can be heard, seen, touched, smelled and tasted.

We will also work in small groups to sort social studies words as an introduction to our Economics unit.

Remember that Back to School Night is TOMORROW night and begins at 7 pm...there is babysitting available, for a nominal fee, for school aged children.

Also, if you purchased Spirit Wear, through the PTA, please LABEL it with your child's all looks the same! :-)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Isn't technology great?

I bet you were thinking I was referring to my blog...nope...teaching students how to subtract two and three digit numbers can be quite challenging. This morning I went to, a web site that our school has purchased the rights to use, and showed the children a video about subtraction with and without regrouping. (BTW...we watched it on the computer AND the TV!!!) Anyway, this video explained the whole regrouping process in a way that I actually saw MANY light bulbs go on in children's heads...well, not actual light bulbs, but you get the point. After the video, we worked a few problems on white boards and I was AMAZED by the progress so many children had made...all due to technology in the classroom.

After math, we read Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, twice! The first time we just simply enjoyed the rhyming tale. Then we went back and identified character traits for the main character Kipat and charted what happened in the book that helped us discover the trait.

Then the students went to music, lunch and recess.

After recess, we will read a story about moods and write about emotions. Then we will begin investigating the whole idea of economics, our first social studies unit.

Remember, all students should have brought in their Braggin' Dragon poster today AND a picture of themselves. If your child hasn't, please have him/her do it on Monday. Also, our first book order is due Monday!

Have a wonderful weekend....

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another busy and productive day...

In math we began our review of subtraction with regrouping by modeling two digit subtraction problems using base ten blocks. We practiced regrouping by trading 1 tens stick for ten ones and concentrated on noticing that we didn't change the value of the number just the way we are showing the number. For example, 71 is usually shown (or thought of) as 7 tens and 1 one but if we regroup we are showing 71 as 6 tens and 11 ones...yet the value remains the same. If you child says he/she has no math homework...he/she is right!

We got a lot done during our reading/language arts block, thanks to the help of Mrs. Bonvillian. After reading the realistic fiction text, Thunder Cake, by Patricia Pollaco, the students worked on identifying the story elements (setting, when and where, characters, problem and solution) in the book and identifying the parts of a news article and the parts of a magazine, while I was able to continue the QRI reading assessment.

This afternoon we will visit the computer lab and explore the third grade web site. We will also begin to use fingerprints to solve a crime and, hopefully, begin a new book by Andrew Clements...we didn't get to that yesterday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Toy Recall

In math today, we reviewed place value but began a review of two and three digit addition with regrouping. As I had hoped, the students had strong addition with regrouping skills...unfortunately, as I feared, when I told the group that we would move on to subtraction with regrouping tomorrow, there was a collective groan!

During reading, we read and discussed our first issue of Time for Kids. The topic of the cover story for this issue was the recent recall of toys made in China. We had a wonderful discussion! We also identified many text features that can be found in non-fiction text, including; photographs, captions, bold print and headings.

The class then went to PE, lunch and recess.

After lunch, we will begin a new book by Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle. WE finished Frindle yesterday...GREAT book!!!! We will also read Today I feel Silly By Jamie Lee Curtis and write about emotions in our writer's notebooks. Then, we will hopefully finish creating our class rules and expectations...

Please remember that book orders are due by Sept. 10 Also, the Braggin' Dragon poster and a picture of your child is due this Friday, Sept. have to see our Braggin' Dragon bulletin board...thanks to Kelly Brown it is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hit the ground running...

It's been a busy and productive morning but I've had no time to breathe...

In math, we continued working on place value. I did a quick "dipstick" exit card DURING class to see what the children have learned/retained. I was pleasantly surprised!! I also introduced a new math anchor activity, and while the children worked independently, I was able to pull two small groups!

During reading, we read Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber and practiced making connections. While the class worked independently, I continued the QRI testing.

While the testing does take time, I am continually amazed about how much information I get by sitting with each child. For example, today I discovered students who decode words VERY well but struggle with comprehension. I also worked with a child who struggles with decoding yet comprehends well...I noticed two students who struggle with b/d reversals, etc., etc. I just think it is time that is well spent...I feel like I truly know the students whom I have already tested.
As a teacher, it is so wonderful to sit with a child while they are reading and to already be formulating ideas of how and what I can teach them to help them be more successful!

This afternoon I will model a writing lesson. We will also finish creating our class rules and expectations.

During the next couple of days, I will be sending home the first Scholastic book order and Highlights order. Please know that I never expect you to order. But there are often some great deals to be had...Also, it is an opportunity to earn free stuff for our classroom. If you decide to order from NOT send cash...write a check payable to SCHOLASTIC. For the highlights order form, we get credit for every form that is SIGNED and RETURNED...even if you do not order. So, please help us earn free gifts by signing and returning the highlights form even if you do not order!

Let me know if you would like to volunteer...I have lots of copying that needs to be done!

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