Thursday, January 31, 2008


Today both Mr. Vogel's class and our class completed the MAP-R reading assessment. This is the assessment that is done on the computer, three times a year.

Due to MAP-R we stayed in homeroom for math. We did a practice math activity for MSA. I gave the class 20 minutes to complete the acitvity that included several multple choice questions and 2 BCR's. Then we went over the correct answers and strategies for finding these answers.

This activity proved useful on many fronts...first, I think many children were pleased to discover that they knew a lot of the information covered on the test...I saw many fears alleviated. Additionally, I discovered two items in which the children, overall, could benefit from additional I will keep that in mind as I plan my instruction.

After that, we went to the computer lab to take the MAP-R...many students showed a lot of growth since the beginning of the year. I will use the broken down data to identify areas of need and appropriately plan further instrcution.

When we returned to the classroom, we discussed that -au usually makes the aw sound and the students picked new spelling words. They will have a spelling test on Friday, February 8 and homework will be due at that time, too.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, we completed choosing our spelling words and I handed out a reading comprehension worksheet that is homework tonight. Then we went to the computer lab for "free choice" since all of the travel brochures have been completed. We will end the day with a lesson taught by our counselor, Mrs. Howard.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Report Card Day!

OK...I have been told that I can be "uptight" and maybe a bit OCD...but it bothers me that I missed a day (yesterday) on the, sorry! I was at an "in-house" training all day and just never got around to updating the blog. :-(

Report cards are coming home today...check your child's backpack. You keep everything in side the envelope. Then sign the outside of the envelope (on the line next to 2nd mp) and return the EMPTY envelope to school.

In math, we have taken the unit 4 (Geometry) preassessment and gone over it. Today we concentrated on the characteristics of plane and solid figures. We constructed a cube, out of paper, and counted it's faces, edges and vertices. There is a polygon worksheet for homework...just a quick review for the adults...a polygon is any figure that is FLAT (plane), CLOSED and has STRAIGHT sides. So, a circle is NOT a polygon.

In reading we are continuing to focus on point of view. Today we read Rumpelstiltskin and learn what first person and third person point of view refresher...first person is when the person telling the story is a character in the story, third person is when the person telling the story is not a character in the story.

Yesterday the students read and discussed an issue of Time for Kids and they completed a follow up worksheet...most of the grades were a bit disappointing...I truly believe that this has more to do with using test taking strategies (such as going back to the text, eliminating answers that are obviously wrong, etc.) and less to do with the children's academic abilities. It was a little bit of a wake up call to me that the children need to do more independent, multiple choice activities and be held accountable for their work (more graded work).

I talked with the class about these things earlier today and I plan to work on helping them improve. I KNOW they are VERY capable!

Following PE, lunch and indoor recess, we went to the computer lab to work on travel brochures. When we return to the classroom, the children will read an article about hearing and answer two BCR's responding to what they have read.

PLEASE keep in mind that I encourage students to review the feedback I provide on assignments and they can redo any assignment...

One last item...beginning Monday we will have new reading groups. There will be a group of students beginning the William and Mary reading program, another group will continue working in the Junior Great Books Program and then I will have a group reading the novel Sarah, Plain and Tall. More information will be coming home, next week, regarding the William and Mary program. ALL students will receive SOME instruction from the program but some students will complete the entire program.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Oh, what a day!

Some days are just smoother than others...I am sure it is like that in EVERY job...tomorrow, I will be in the building at some "in house" training and, today I had teaching to do, planning to do AND I had to get together sub plans for tomorrow...WHEW!!!! It just made for a hectic day!

Sorry, had to vent! :-)

In math, we completed a BCR in preparation for the MSA. The children worked on it "cold". Then I gave some "hints" and gave the students time to revise it. PLEASE look for it to come home in the next few days...every BCR will have feedback provided so the children know what they did well and what they can improve upon. This is the most important aspect of their learning! After that, we did a quick review/preview for unit 4, Geometry. There is a shape worksheet for homework.

During reading, we finished going over the Test Ready activity.

Then we went to art, lunch and outdoor recess.

Following recess, we reread The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (can you tell I LOVE that story?!?!) and talked about the art of persuasion. The children were delighted to realize that an idea they thought was new to them was not new at all...just the term! LOL! Then, using a graphic organizer, they planned a writing piece to persuade a judge NOT to believe the wolf's story and to send him to jail!

We ended the day with a book exchange in the media center.

The children will get new spelling words on Thursday...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Unit 3 Assessment

We took the unit 3 assessment today and it took most of the was lllooonnnngggg!!!! Since the test is a secure MCPS document, it can not be sent home. Therefore, children in my math class will receive a xerox copy of the cover page with their grade on it.

Earlier in the week the children worked on a BCR as part of test taking strategies. Some of the children brought theirs home yesterday. Most will bring theirs home today. I have given feedback on each paper...please review it with you child so they can see what they did well and what they need to do to improve in the future!

Following music, lunch and indoor recess, the children were given a chance to share an entry from their morning work journals. Then we reviewed the Test Ready activity they did yesterday...again pointing out test taking strategies. After that we will create sound using string...a science experiment...hopefully, this one will be more successful than the last one! :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Very busy this will be brief!

In math we took the basic facts portion of the unit 3 assessment. Then we reviewed the unit 3 review packet. During reading we read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig and discussed point of view. After that, the children did a Test Ready activity on their own. Tomorrow we will review the answers and go over specific test taking strategies.

Following lunch and recess, we went to the computer lab. The children continued working on their travel brochure. Most have finished and published...they look awesome!

There is a sentence worksheet for homework and students should go over the review packet with an adult in order to prepare for tomorrow's assessment!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Test taking skills or teaching to the test?!?!

OK...this might turn into a rant...and I invite any feedback or opinions to be posted or e-mailed directly to me...

I think that teaching test taking strategies is an important "life skill" that must be addressed in school but I get my tail feathers ruffled when I hear people (the media and others, too) say that schools are teaching to the test. I do not believe that these are one and the same...

Students MUST learn how to take the skills, lessons, and knowledge that they are acquiring and utilize them in new and different ways...we call this application. This must be modeled and taught...and I believe that test taking skills falls in this arena.

For example, students SHOULD be taught that when facing a multiple choice question, one choice will usually be the most often chosen WRONG answer (called a distractor). They also need to learn how to analyze WHAT a question is asking, in order to make sure they answer THE question.

Therefore, with these beliefs in mind and the MSA quickly approaching, I will be teaching test taking skills...please don't mistake this for teaching to the test...that just doesn't fit with my philosophy.

SO, what did we do today....

In math the students worked on a review packet for the unit 3 assessment. We will go over the review packet, in depth, tomorrow in class and take the actual assessment on Friday. They do have a multiplication worksheet for homework.

During reading we read The Three Little Pigs and the The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and discussed point of view. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is the story told from the wolf's point of view...great book!

Following PE, lunch and outdoor recess we will read a short passage and answer a BCR (brief constructed response). Then we will review our answers to learn how to improve our written response to what we have read...yes, this will help us prepare for MSA but it also will help us learn appropriate ways to demonstrate comprehension of text through written language.

We will end the day in the computer lab, working on our travel brochures!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday with a long weekend ahead...

The children were pretty good natured about the fact that we got a decent amount of snow and they did not get ANY time off of school. I told them that I actually felt badly about giving homework last night. When I got home, my son was playing in the snow and then went to a neighbor's house. He was enjoying the snow day (even though it wasn't a day off)...and then he had to stop to do his homework. I thought to myself, why did she have to give homework...couldn't they just come home and enjoy the snow? Then I realized that I had given homework...Ahhhhh! I felt badly! :-(

In math today the children took the last quiz for this unit. They did quite well! We will do a review packet on Wednesday and then have the assessment on Thursday and/or Friday. I will definitely let you know on Wednesday.

Then we spent time reading the morning message and talking about children's books. We completed a survey for the reading specialist, Mrs. Hepner.

Following music, lunch and recess we made a model of an ear drum and then did an experiment that wasn't too successful. :-( The idea was to create an eardrum using a cup and pulling a membrane tightly over it. Then the students were supposed to use noise makers to make noise so that they could watch the membrane vibrating...and thereby making sound. Well, we didn't see any vibrations...oh well, I do feel they got the idea of how sound is created and recognized by our brain.

Then we ended the day working on our research projects in the computer lab.

Have a wonderful 4 day weekend...mine is only 3...I'll be working on report cards and comments , at school, on Tuesday! :-)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

What an easy day to teach...NOT! The excitement ran ramped throughout the day as the children watched the snow pile up...we did get some instruction in, but it wasn't easy!!

In math we reviewed solving multiple choice word problems. There is a division worksheet for homework. Also, we will have a quiz tomorrow.

During reading we continued reading our literature circle books and worked on a new bookmark. We will hold discussion groups tomorrow.

Following lunch and recess we went to the computer lab to continue working on our travel brochures for our city research projects. Our day concluded with a lesson by Mrs. Howard.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hump Day

Yes, it is formative day in we took and reviewed a formative....the last page was a fourth grade objective and had NOT been taught. I wanted to see if the children could apply the knowledge they have in a new situation. Tonight, for homework, the children should explain the formative to an they solved the problems correctly and what they learned from their mistakes...also they need to work on their multiplication is so important that they memorize the basic facts!

During reading we met in literature discussion groups to discuss our last reading assignment.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the children will be working with a substitute teacher. I get (read sarcasm into that one) to go to the dentist to get help for a tooth I broke on Sunday...yey me!

The children will read and discuss the current issue of Time for is the "person of the Year" issue and JK Rowling was chosen as such. Then they will write about themselves as "Person of the Year". I am looking forward to reading these...they should be a hoot!

After that, the class will be meeting Mrs. Rose, the media specialist, in the computer lab, to continue working on their research reports. Hopefully, some children will begin publishing their brochure using Microsoft Publisher.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Two for Tuesday

Was that DC101 who used to do Two for Tuesdays? Two songs by the same artist? Can't remember...I'm sure if my brother is reading, he'll remember!

Anyway...2 seemed to be the "number" in math class today! We reviewed two skills...comparison multiplication and estimation with solving multiplication word problems. I met with two small reviewing rounding numbers to the nearest ten and the other solving algebraic expressions with a variable. Then I had two different homeworks...most students have a multiplication worksheet but a few have a variable worksheet.

During reading we worked on two activities...We began by rereading our literature group assignments and completing a bookmark. Then we went to the media center to continue organizing our information for our travel brochure.

Following lunch and recess, we will share our reed instruments that we created yesterday in class. Then we will go to an assembly. We will see a Chinese Opera. If time permits, we will also continue working on our travel brochures. There will be a writing worksheet for home work tonight!

Unfortunately, due to a last minute issue...our assembly was cancelled! :-(

Monday, January 14, 2008

So....who IS reading?!?!?!

On Friday I put a number counter on the blog because I was feeling like nobody was reading my my surprise, the blog is receiving quite a number of hits! Woohoo! But...who is reading?

On to the academics...

During math we reviewed the multiple choice question from the quiz on Friday...only THREE children got it right...and guess what?!?!! It was the children who actually showed their work and solved the problem!?!?! Imagine that?!?!?! SO we went over that in class...along with estimating the answer to multiplication problems. For homework, the children need to finish any classwork they didn't finish, complete a multiplication worksheet AND practice their flashcards.

In reading we continued organizing our gathered information onto our brochure planning sheet. This is allowing many opportunities for direct teaching of writing sentences and paragraphs...great stuff but a LOT of effort by both student AND teacher!

Prior to art, we watched the 4th graders perform with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Following art, lunch and recess, we continued with the research project. I am trying to teach the children how to take their notes and turn them into meaningful sentences...I see so much is both exciting and exhausting! :-)

Finally, it was time for a break...we used straw to create reed instruments...the kids had lots of fun with this. Then we ended the day with a book exchange in the media center.

Reading homework:
Kidnapped Cupid: read chapters 5&6
Magic Tree House: read chapters 5&6
Fudge-a-Mania read chapters 7, 8, &9
Junie B Jones: read chapters 5 &6
Jigsaw Jones: read chapters 6 & 7

BTW...SPELLING...right now we have very limited time on our schedule due to literature circles and our research project...these are both VERY valuable uses of our time...we will resume spelling Monday, January 28.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What a GREAT way to end the week!

We began the day with a math quiz! What a super way to start the day...overall, the children did very well! I just love watching these kids get smarter as the year progresses! :-)

Then we continued working on our research projects. Today, the students used the notes they gathered on their graphic organizer and began planning their travel brochure. Again, another fun experience for the teacher (me)! The students, whom I had a chance to work with, were doing a great job of taking their notes (fragments) and turning them into sentences. While this was not an easy task and they did need help, it was noticeable how they were learning as they progressed through their planning...very cool!

Following music, lunch and recess, we made slide whistles. Then we produces sound using the slide whistles and explored pitch.

Finally, we ended the day creating cards that will be delivered to wounded soldiers who are recovering at Walter Reed.

Truly a GREAT day!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Internet Research

This morning I was out of the building at a doctor's appointment. However, instruction continues, as normal, under the guidance of a substitute and the help of Mrs. Starkey and Mrs. Bonvillain.

During math the children practiced solving two step word problems. They also practiced writing word problems when given an expression. We will have a quiz tomorrow and both of these items will be covered on the quiz.

In reading the children participated in literature discussion circle. They also added either subjects or predicates to sentence fragments in order to make the fragments complete sentences.

After I returned, we went to the computer lab. The children used many Internet resources to gather more information for their research projects. They also found pictures and saved them to their documents folder. These pictures will later be imported into their travel brochure. Some of the web sites that were used can be found by going to the school homepage at and clicking on class pages, then third grade and then cities project. Or try this link .

Let me know if you find including these links helpful!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hump Day

This morning, in math, we took a math formative. Overall, the students did very well. We will have a quiz on Friday covering multiplication, division and word problems. For homework, students need to explain the formative to an adult. They should explain how to solve each problem...what they did correctly and what they have learned from their mistakes. They also need to continue practice their flashcards.

During reading, I was able to meet (and test) a few students to see how their sight words and reading comprehension is coming along. While I did this, the children reread their assignments from Monday night and worked on their bookmarks. For homework, they need to complete their bookmarks (we will have literature circle discussions tomorrow) and read for 15 minutes.

Following PE, lunch and recess, we will investigate pitch using rulers to make sounds. Then we will continue gathering our research with Mrs. Rose in the media center.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Continuing research with Mrs. Rose

During math we reviewed writing word problems when given a multiplication expression and we practiced solving word problems. There is a multiplication worksheet for homework and we will have a formative tomorrow.

During reading I attended two meetings but the children went to the media center to continue gathering information about the city they are researching and they exchanged books.

Following lunch and recess, we reviewed the parts of a sentence (subject/predicate) and different types of sentences (simple vs. compound). The children have a worksheet to complete for homework. They will need to combine two simple sentences by using a comma and the words and, but or or to create a compound sentence.

Finally, we finished with science. We investigated the different sounds created by the vibrations of a ruler.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back to a 5 day week...

Back to a routine...whew...I thrive on routine and find that children do, too! So, it is good to be back to a 5 day work week! :-)

Math today...we had 5 children seemed so weird! We reviewed solving word problems using multiplication or division...we also practice using our knowledge to attempt some of the 4th grade challenge problems...for example, completing fact families when given only an expression such as, 3x4 (the fact family would then be 3x4=12, 4x3=12, 12/4=3, 12/3=4) and solving beginning algebraic expressions. We also wrote word problems for given multiplication expressions...ex. when given 3x4...There were 3 cats. Each cat has 4 legs. How many legs in all? Actually, looking back, we did a lot! For homework, the children need to finish the multiplication worksheet and practice their flashcards.

Onto reading...after changing classroom jobs ( I was REALLY behind in that area) we reviewed the characteristics of folktales and began reading a modern folktale. We will finish the folktale and identify -ui words from the folktale after art, lunch and recess. For homework, every student will have a reading assignment from their literature circle book...but NOT a bookmark. Tomorrow they will do a reread of their assignment and complete a bookmark.

Reading assignments:
Fudge-a-Mania ch. 4, 5 &6
Rev. War on Wed. ch. 3 & 4
Kidnapped Cupid ch. 3 & 4
Junie B Jones ch 3 & 4
Jigsaw Jones ch. 3, 4 & 5

This afternoon, after completing our reading lesson, we will discuss the difference between a simple and a complex sentence. Then we will continue our study of sound. Last week we learned that sound is produced by vibrations. Today we will use nails to create sound!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Discussion Groups

Slight change in schedule today so that each third grade class had a chance to begin their research, with Mrs. Rose, in the media center. We began the day with reading and will have math after recess.

During reading, we had our first set of discussion groups with our literature circles. The children met with the other students who are reading the same book and "discussed" their assigned passages. I was truly impressed...some groups needed help getting a discussion rolling (they tended to be a bit rigid, at first, reading off of their bookmarks)....but once they got the hang of it they seemed to enjoy the literary discourse.

Then we went to the media center and began gathering information about the cities that we are researching. Each student has a graphic organizer to guide their research. Today they used books and discovered information as to the exact location of their city.

Following music, lunch and indoor recess, we will switch for math. My math class will work on determining whether to use multiplication or division to solve word problems.

After math, my homeroom will discover how sound travels.

GO SKINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Literature Circles

During math we continued practicing determining whether to multiply or divide in order to solve word problems. During independent practice, the focus was on using division to solve word problems. A small group also learned how to solve beginning algebraic problems that include variables. For homework, all had to complete any unfinished classwork. Some have a variable worksheet, while others have a multiplication worksheet, to complete. All students need to continue practicing their multiplication flashcards.

In reading, the students received their chosen book for literature circles. They also began their first assignment. All groups, except for Fudge-a-Mania, needs to read chapters 1 and 2 and complete their book mark...this needs to be finished at home tonight. Fudge-a-Mania needs to read chapters 1,2 and 3.

Prior to beginning their assignments independently, I modeled EXACTLY what they are expected to do with the book, Stay Away from Simon. I modeled reading the book and completing the bookmark.

Please keep in mind that your children selected their book based on the actual text might be a bit simple or possibly a bit challenging...students are encouraged to read to or with another reader (such as a friend a parent, a childcare provider, etc.) OR have someone read to them... Also, students need to read the assigned selection MORE THAN ONCE...that is why they are given time in class, as well as, time at home.

Following lunch and indoor recess, we visited the computer lab. At the computer lab, we reviewed Microsoft Publisher and I introduced the Encyclopedia Britannica web site. Students were encouraged to use the Encyclopedia Britannica site to get a little bit of information about Rome, Buenos Aires, Athens, Sydney, Cairo, Beijing, Tokyo and London. These are the cities they will be choosing from to complete their research project.

When we return to the classroom, we will continue our investigation of sound.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We're baaaaccckkkk...

It's so good to be back at school. While I had a fabulous break, it's nice to see all of the children again and help them get smarter!

In math we worked on writing and solving number sentences for multiplication and division word problems on white boards. Then, independently, we practiced doing working with multiplication word problems using good ole' pencil and paper. While the students worked independently, I pulled two small groups. The first got some review with multiplication word problems. The second group were challenges with solving beginning algebraic number sentences. For homework students have a multiplication worksheet to finish and they need to practice their multiplication flashcards.

During reading we took some time to talk about our Winter Breaks. Then I introduced the concept of literature circles to the class. Here's a brief overview for you:
  • Students get to choose their book
  • The groups are small and temporary, based on the students' book selection
  • Students read a selection of the book, assigned by the teacher, and complete a "bookmark"
  • Students meet with their groups to discuss the reading selection
  • The atmosphere should endorse reading as a fun activity
  • The teacher serves as a facilitator for the group discussion, not as a group member or as an instructor

Hopefully, these circles will successfully build students' reading fluency, comprehension, while creating a love of reading...

Following PE, lunch and indoor recess, we will begin our next science unit, the study of sound. Then we will go to the media center to begin our research projects. Each student, in school, will be researching a city and creating a travel brochure for that city!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Just checking in...anyone reading? Hope everyone had a wonderful break...I've had tons of fun but am looking forward to seeing all the children and hearing about their adventures! I need some routine back in my life! LOL!

I did get to go to the Skins game, in the pouring cold rain, on Sunday and am extremely excited that they are in the playoffs!!! WOOHOO!

Feel free to help your children post their favorite part of break to the blog! :-)

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