Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mid Week

I will be leaving mid day today...have to take care of some family health issues involving my grandfather.

So, here's a quick and brief update...
In math we did not have a formative. Instead I gave an exit card (dip stick tool) to see who still needed help identifying fractions of a set. Then while the rest of the class worked independently on comparing fractions and solving money word problems, I worked with a small group (identified by the exit cards). There is a money worksheet for homework.

During reading we began lesson two of Comics in the Classroom. today's lesson focused on demonstrating understanding of a story's characters.

Following PE, lunch and recess, the children will listen to a chapter from A Cricket in Times Square. They will also have a chance to share a morning work entry that they wrote. Then they will review the structure of Cinquain and Haiku poetry. Following some independent writing time, they will be given an opportunity to share a Cinquain or Haiku poem they wrote.

Finally, to end the day, the children will observe their plants and record their observations in their plant journals. Then they will watch a Magic School Bus video about plant growth and development.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Productive Day :-)

You gotta love those days that hum along and feel productive!

In math we reviewed last night's homework and tackled solving open-ended (read: many possible correct answers) word problems involving money. There is a money worksheet for homework. We will NOT have a formative tomorrow but WILL have a quiz on Friday.

On to reading...the children worked on independent reading group activities and a worksheet that guided them to consider the pros and cons of telling a story using a comic versus in a written book format.

JGB: Reread Ooka and the Honest Thief, finished directed notes and completed a vocabulary enhancement activity.

W&M: Read chapters 5&6. Answered a BCR about being angry at the wrong person. Met with me to read and discuss this section...GREAT discussion!

Charlotte's Web: Read chapter 3. Discussed "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" with me. Answered BCR about this idiom and whether or not it applied to Wilbur's escape.

Flat Stanley: Met with me to read chapter 2. Discussed a summary...beginning, middle and end. In their reading logs, drew and then wrote a summary of chapter 2.

Following lunch and recess we continued reading A Cricket in Times Square. Then the students worked in groups of 2-3 to create t-charts with the headings Physical Features and Human-Made Features. Then the children placed vocabulary cards on the appropriate side of the t-chart.

We ended the day by sharing out t-charts and voting for a start student.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cold, Wet and Rainy Monday

What better place to be then in school learning? :-)

In math we spent MORE time identifying fractions of a set. I put a lot of emphasis on setting up the fractions and multiplying the denominator and the numerator by the same number. The children completed a worksheet, in class, independently, while I worked with a small group of students. Tonight, for homework, they are to complete a worksheet that is similar to the one they did in class. If they get stuck, they should use their classwork to help them figure out what to do.

Reading was interrupted with our sitting for the Spring Portraits. We spent time looking for -ear words and then sorted the words according to the sound the -ear pattern makes. We discovered 4 different common sounds! Tonight, for homework, the children should find 10 -ear words in magazines, newspapers, junk mail, etc., cut out the words and glue them into their spelling journal.

We also continued reading A Cricket in Times Square.

Following art, lunch and recess, we will read another chapter of A Cricket in Times Square. Then we will write Haiku poetry.

Haiku poetry is a Japanese form that contains only 17 syllables in the entire poem. Line 1 has 5 syllables, line 2 has 7 syllables and line 3 has 5 syllables. The poem is about nature and does not rhyme.

We will end our day with a book exchange in the media center.

Mr. Lee is in need of parent volunteers for field day. A second flyer is coming home today!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hard Work Pays Off...

...and I have proof!

This morning my homeroom took the final MAP-R for this year. To refresh your memory, it is the reading test that is taken on the computer. This test self adjusts to the child's abilities…meaning if the child misses many questions, the items get easier and if they child consistently answers correctly, the difficulty increases.

Overall, my class ROCKED!!!!! There were so many very impressive gains! And even more importantly, the child put effort into the assessment. I watched the children take time, reread passages and read through every answer option. I was (and am) so pleased. I can't contain my enthusiasm and feel so proud of all of them!

When we returned to the classroom, I shared my joy with the children and pointed out how much smarter they have gotten BECAUSE of their hard work. I also told them they should be proud of themselves but that they need to continue working hard!

Prior to going to music, we took our spelling test and read and discussed an issue of Time for Kids. There was no follow-up worksheet. A small reward for doing well on their assessment!

After lunch and recess, we will observe, measure and water our plants (and herbs, too). If needed, some students will get a chance to stake their plants.

We will end the day by going to math and taking a quiz. I am hoping to get these scored and sent home today. I know the children have grown accustomed to this. However, as the quiz will run into the end of the day, time may become an issue!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Take Your Child to Work Day

So, we had a whopping 8 children in homeroom today. We made good use of our time, though!

In math we spent the entire time using white boards to practice identifying equivalent fractions. The children enjoyed this time as many obtained new knowledge of a skill that has been haunting them. Some of the children who usually dread math were actually bummed when it was over! :-) There will be a quiz tomorrow. So the only homework is to review past quizzes in order to study for the quiz tomorrow.

Following math, we combined third grade classes and went to the computer lab. Mr. Vogel had discovered a Web Quest on the Internet that is called The Great Plant Escape. You can check it out by clicking on the link I have added under "Other Web Sites", to the right.

Well, today the children got a chance to do the Web Quest. They also gathered information (took notes from the Web Quest onto a note page created via Power Point by Mr. Vogel) that identifies and explains the seven things needed for plants to grow. After obtaining approval from a teacher, the children will then create their own Power Point about what is needed for plants to grow.

This wonderfully fun and educational activity was created by Mr. Vogel. I think it provided an excellent learning opportunity for the children who came to school today...and hopefully, they had fun, too!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Update - Homework

Students are to write a Quatrain poem this evening. The "rules" are listed on their sheet...basically these poems contain 4 lines per stanza with a rhyming pattern (scheme). Popular patterns include AABB, ABAB, AABA and ABCB.

Keep in mind spelling homework is due Friday. We will have a math quiz and a spelling test on Friday.

Catching Up!

In math, we took a formative and reviewed the correct answers and good strategies for obtaining those answers. For homework, students are expected to review the formative with an adult and to complete a money worksheet.

Our reading block became an opportunity for many to "catch up". For one reason, or another, all but two students had assignments that had not been completed and turned in to me. During this time, I met with the majority of the class, one on one, to go over different "issues" I had spotted on various assignments. In essence, it gave me a chance to use their mistakes as a teachable moment.

Following PE, lunch and recess, we will continue writing poetry. Today I will introduce quatrains; four lines of poetry that have rhyming schemes such as, AABB, AABA, ABAB and ABCB. So far, the children have demonstrated great enthusiasm and talent for poetry writing. Let's hope they enjoy this next challenge that I throw their way! :-)

We will end the day with a science lesson...we will either "thin" our plants so that each quadrant has only one thriving plant and/or we will visit the computer lab to use the internet as a source for additional information about plants. We'll see how the afternoon goes!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So, now they teach reading using comics?!?!

Yes, that's's reading lesson was based on a Walt Disney comic. For all of you pessimists out there (and I was one till I read the curriculum info. this weekend....while I was sunbathing...I am not THAT dedicated! LOL), the children will be bringing home a letter about the program this afternoon.

Today we did the introductory lesson. We discussed the structural elements of a comic. There include speech balloons, thought balloons, panels, gutters (the space between the panels)and captions. Then the children read Donald Duck in World's apart and used contextual clues (both words and pictures) to identify the meaning of unknown words. Then they worked on individual reading group assignments.

JGB: Finished reading their story using the directed notes strategy. They then had a question to answer in their packet.

W&M: Met with me to read and discuss chapter 4 in Journey. We had a fabulous discussion about Journey's relationship with his grandfather.

Flat Stanley: Read chapter 2.

Charlotte's Web: Read and discussed chapter 2 with me.

Prior to reading we did have math. In math we reviewed fractions of a set and went over the homework from last night. We also talked about estimation and rounding with money. The rule of thumb is 50 cents and higher rounds UP to the next dollar. There is a worksheet for homework.

This afternoon, under the guidance of Mr. Vogel, the children will be choosing herbs and planting them in a terrarium that will be kept in our classroom. Then Mr. Vogel will read a Chris Van Allsburg book in honor of Earth Day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Homework and a Book Fair Reminder

Writing Homework: Students have a lined sheet of paper in their home folder with the line "I was walking down the street one day" written on it. They are to write a couplet with at least 3 pairs of rhyming lines (6 total).

Book Fair: If you are sending money in for the book fair do not forget to include 6% (yes, six) sales tax!

The book fair is open tonight and tomorrow night until 8 and on Wednesday night 'til 7 pm.

Busy Week

There are many activities going on this week. First, this week is TV Turnoff Week. Also, there is a Book Fair in our school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We will be visiting, as a class, this afternoon. The book fair is open until 8pm tonight. The talent (variety?) show is Friday night at the Damascus Community Center. Finally, Thursday is Take Your Child to Work Day. There was a form sent home last Friday. It is expected that children who will be going to work with a parent on Thursday bring in the completed form, or a note, prior to missing school on Thursday.

Now, on to our day...
In math, we spent the entire time working on identifying fractions of a set. The children copied notes, off the white board, written by me, on how to solve a problem using three different strategies. Then they practiced using these strategies as they solved two additional problems in their journals. For homework tonight, they have three problems to solve in their math journal. Just in case some children forget their math journals, here are the problems:
1. Draw 12 circles. Shade 1/6. X out 1/3.
2. Draw 18 circles. Shade 1/6. X out 1/9.
3. Draw 20 circles. Shade 1/10. X out 1/4.

During reading the children worked on a reading comprehension follow up from Friday's Time for Kids and they had assignments that pertained to their individual reading groups. I also met with two reading groups...

JGB: Met with me and we began rereading using the directed notes approach. We marked areas in the story where OOka was being fair (F) and where OOka was being unfair (U). They finished this independently.

Charlotte's Web: Met with me and we began reading chapter 2.

W&M: Completed BCR from last week and began reading chapter 4 independently.

Flat Stanley: Finished work from last week...worked in small group with Mrs. Benson.

Following art, lunch and indoor recess, we will continue reading and writing poetry. We will work on rhyming as we write couplets and tercets.

Prior to visiting the book fair at 2:30, I am planning on identifying human made and man made features in The House on Maple Street.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Are you listening????

Sometimes that is exactly what I want to ask the children...

Our day began with a math quiz...frustrating, for me! I explained to the children , following the quiz, that I am not upset about their grades. I am upset because they are making the same mistakes over and over again and not using the strategies (or even trying) that I teach in class. AHHHHHHHHHHH!

I am specifically thinking of identifying fractions of a set. When asked what 1/3 of 18 is, for example, the children continually color 3...they color the number because it is the denominator. I have taught at least four different strategies that I can think of...AND told them that the method they are using, while definitely simpler, is not correct! Are they listening?

Moving on to reading...we read and discussed an issue of Time for Kids. The cover story dealt with children and allergies. We had a wonderful discussion about what exactly is an allergy, our immune system and even genetics.

Following music, lunch and recess, we read 2 chapters from Matilda. Then the children took notes, in their writer's notebook, about the structure of a Cinquain poem...5 lines
line 1: 2 syllables tells the subject
line 2: 4 syllables describes the subject
line 3: 6 syllables action involving the subject
line 4: 8 syllables a feeling about the subject
line 5 2 syllables another name or word to describe the subject

Finally, they practiced writing cinquain poetry.

After sharing their literary excellence with classmates, we identified natural and man made features in The House on Maple Street.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Publishing Poetry

During math, the children independently worked on a fraction review packet. Prior to that, though, we cleared about some confusion regarding the balancing equations section of the formative. There is a worksheet for homework AND we will have a quiz tomorrow. The quiz will focus on probability and fractions.

Reading seemed to be exceedingly productive today! YEY! We began by creating a class list of -are (using our homework from Monday night...or at least, the homework of those children who did it....) and sorting those words according to the sound they make. Then the children created individual spelling lists and placed a list in their binders, in their spelling journal AND in their planners for this week AND next week.

After that, the students worked on individual reading groups assignments...

JGB: Met with me, did a text opener and a first reading of their new story, OOKA and the Honest Thief. Then, those who had time, did a second reading on their own.

W&M: Reread chapter 3 and answered a BCR in their W&M journal.

Charlotte's Web: Reread chapter 1 and drew a picture of the beginning, middle and end of chapter 1. They then used their pictures to help write a summary of chapter 1.

Flat Stanley: Finished their reading log assignments from yesterday and then read chapter 2.

Following lunch and recess, we went to the computer lab. In the computer lab, the children all began by working on Type to Learn. As they worked on their computers, I conferenced with each child individually. Each child picked a poem and we discussed and edited the poem together. Then the children returned to their computers and began publishing their poem using Microsoft Word.

Finally, our day ended with a lesson (class meeting, actually) led by Mrs. Howard, the guidance counselor.

Besides math homework, studying for the math quiz and reading for 15-20 minutes, students should begin working on their spelling homework which is due NEXT Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hump Day

In math we took a formative. There were a number of problems on the formative that had not been directly taught in class. I wanted to see how well the children could apply their knowledge in new situations. Overall, I learned that the class needs work on balancing equations. So, please, do not be alarmed if your child did poorly on that page. We will be working on that skill in class.

For homework students need to review their formative with an adult and complete a money worksheet.

During reading, the students worked on specific assignments for their individual groups.

W&M: Finally received their own copies of Journey. They reread chapters 1 & 2. I had assigned a BCR but it addressed a quote in chapter 3. (OOPS!) So, instead of answering the BCR, they read chapter 3.

Flat Stanley: Reread chapter 1 and responded to two assignments int heir reading logs. First they had to draw pictures of the beginning, middle and end of the chapter. Next, they had to explain (in writing) how Stanley "got flat".

Charlotte's Web: Met with me and read chapter 1.

JGB: Worked with Mrs. Benson. They will begin their new story tomorrow.

Following PE, lunch and recess, I will read a chapter of Matilda out loud. Then we will examine the structure of poetry...lines, stanzas, usage of space, etc. Finally, we will read The House on Maple Street and identify natural and human made features in the story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Science / Writing Homework

In their science journals, students need to predict what will happen to their seeds...using SPECIFIC DETAILS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Report Card Day

Report cards will be coming home with your child today. Please keep everything inside the envelope, sign the envelope in the space provided and return the EMPTY envelope to school tomorrow.

In math, we continued working on identifying fractions of a set and then practiced counting and writing money. There is a math worksheet for homework. We will most likely have a formative tomorrow and definitely have a quiz on Friday.

Reading block did not go as smoothly as I had hoped...we had some children pulled for GT re-screening (you know if your child was received a note and a phone call) and others were pulled for various other reasons (ESOL, for example...). So, as a group, we completed a Frayer Model (graphic organizer tool that helps children understand and learn new concepts) about fantasy. Then I read Big, Bad Bruce, a picture book, out loud to the class. As I read the story, the children highlighted ideas from on their Frayer Model that they heard represented in the story.

Independently, the children reread Big, Bad Bruce and answered a BCR in their reading log. While this occurred, I had planned to meet with each of my reading groups. However, I only met with one group, due to the number of children missing from the other reading groups.

Following lunch and recess, we will have time to catch up from reading block this morning. Then we will plant our seeds in science.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Back to Routine...for good!

We are back to our regular routine and schedule for the duration! In math, we spent a lot of time working on identifying fractions of a set. I gave out an "exit card"...a quick check to see who could identify 1/6 and 1/2 of 12 and the majority of the class are still struggling. We worked on a worksheet, in class, and students got to choose if they wanted to complete it independently or in a small group, with me. For homework, there is a worksheet on counting money....this should be a review from 2nd grade and is intended as such, as we have not spent time on this in class.

During our reading block we continued reading Matilda. Then we searched for -are words and sorted them according to the sound made by the -are spelling pattern. For homework, students must find and list at least 10 -are words in their spelling journals.

Following art, lunch and recess, we will continue our study of poetry. I will read more poems aloud and then students will write acrostic poems. These are poems where you begin with a name (or a word) and write it vertically. Each line of the poem begins with a letter from the original word. For example:


We will end the day with a book exchange in the media center.

Please remember that children are expected to read for at least 15 minutes EVERY night. Additionally, they should be memorizing their basic math facts.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fun Filled Friday, take 2

This morning the children had two specials, PE and music. In between the two, we squeezed in some academics! :-) We read and discussed an issue of Time for Kids and then the children did a follow up worksheet. Prior to reading the TFK, though, we had a wonderful discussion about Africa and poverty; particularly the issues affecting health care and education.

Following lunch and recess the entire third grade watched Homeward Bound in celebration of the end of MSA testing!

Remember that book/computer orders are due Monday. One check, made payable to Scholastic, Inc., can be sent for both orders.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One Question to my Readers

If you read this blog and do not have children in my class, I would love to hear from you...your thoughts and advise! Please feel free to e-mail me at



That is the sound of a low stress testing and the sun is shining. PLUS, I have discovered some talented poets within my classroom. All is good!

This morning, we began with see? We are back to routine! WE practiced identifying fractions of a number. For example, 1/3 of could draw 24 circles in 3 equal groups (the denominator - bottom number - tells us how many equal groups) and then we shade in 1 of the equal groups (the numerator tells us how many of the equal groups we are talking about). There is no homework...we will crack the whip, again, next week.

Following math, we had a reading/language arts block. We haven't gotten back to reading groups yet...again, that will come on Monday. WE did read two more chapters in Matilda. Then we read many poems from some of the poetry anthologies I checked out from the school library. After that, we discussed couplets and I shared with them a strategy for writing couplets (two lines that rhyme). Next, the students had independent writing time to practice writing either free verse or couplet poetry. Finally, the students shared the poetry they had written...WOW! I was blown away. Some were funny, most had great rhythm and many rhymed. I also heard a few poems that shared beautiful thoughts. I was so pleasantly surprised!!

Following lunch and recess, we will go to the computer lab where children will work on Type to Learn for the first 1/2 hour. After that, they can continue practicing their typing or go to various links from the third grade web page.

WE will conclude the day by observing the seeds we soaked over night and writing in our science journals.

Tomorrow we have our double specials...PE and music.

Book orders are due no later than Monday!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


MSA is over. Done. Finished.

And the children were troopers! I am so proud of and pleased with their efforts.

This morning we completed the math portion of MSA, read Matilda and began making cards for Mrs. McAlister and Mrs. Watkins in honor of Secretary's Day...stop worrying...we are ahead of the game....Secretary's Day isn't until 4/23. Making cards seemed to be a fun activity that used our time wisely...

This afternoon we continued with our study of poetry. We talked about "free verse" poetry today (no rules). I shared with the children some wonderful thoughts from the book Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher, a respected source for teaching children to write. These ideas include; think of a poem as a snapshot not a video, use fragments not sentences, think of a poem as an x-ray, convey feelings through images. Then the children wrote a free verse poem on a subject of their choice. Those who wanted, shared their poetry.

We ended the day with a science lesson. I handed out science journals and the children recorded their observations of a dry vegetable seed in them. Then they had a chance to decorate their journals.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

MSA: Math Day 1

Our children worked hard this morning!!! They spent the majority of it completing day 1 of the MSA math section. They will complete the MSA tomorrow with part 2 of math.

After MSA, we continued reading Matilda by Roald Dahl. Then the children went to lunch and outdoor recess.

When they return, we will begin our study of Poetry by discussing the similarities and differences between poetry and prose. Then we will peruse some anthologies of poetry and share some that we find and like.

Finally, we will end the day by beginning our final science unit, Plant Growth and Development. We will unpack the science kit together and watch a movie as an introduction to the unit.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fun Filled Friday

Due to MSA, the children had TWO (count them, two) "specials" today.

We began our day by going to PE. After that, in homeroom, we reviewed telling time by watching a United Streaming video clip and practicing using a "Judy" clock (teaching aid) and white boards. Then we continued reading Matilda. Just prior to lunch, we went to music, per our usual schedule. Following music,we enjoyed lunch and outdoor recess.

We began the afternoon by switching for math class. In my math class, we practiced long division using white boards.

We ended the day by completing our social studies timelines and sharing them with the rest of our class.

Remember: Students do NOT have school on Monday, 4/7...I do, though!

Also...Tuesday morning we have MSA math testing!!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Back to a Regular Schedule - for now!

This morning brought us back to our typical routine...sort of!

In math, we practiced long division using white boards. Then the children received a worksheet with labelled fraction bars and we spent some time discussing fractions, again. Finally, the children returned to their seats and used their newly acquired knowledge (and some old stuff, too) to identify equivalent fractions. For homework, some students need to finish the classwork and everyone has a worksheet that practices comparing fractions.

We began our reading block with a review of fantasy as a literary genre. I also shared with the class that while magic or supernatural powers are a focal point in fantasy, the author tries to make everything else in the story believable. We continued reading Matilda and discussed what was believable and what was "supernatural".

Then we got into a truly fun (and educational, too) discussion! To prepare the class for the Time for Kids that we were going to read and discuss, I shared with them the idea that delegates are the actual people who select candidates. This spiralled into a wonderful discussion about the entire election process...we even drew some parallels to math concepts. Finally, we read the issue and the children completed a follow up worksheet. Those who did not finish are expected to finish for homework.

After lunch and recess, we went to the computer lab and I introduced the children to a software package called Type to Learn 3. As the title implies, it is a program that teachers the children to type properly. The students had the chance to work their way through 2 missions, at their own pace.

When we returned to the classroom, the children worked on their time lines that we started, in class, yesterday.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

MSA Reading...done!

Congrats to all of my wonderful students! They made it through their first round of MSA reading...WAY TO GO, guys! Next Tuesday and Wednesday they will tackle the math portion of the MSA. I KNOW they will do their best! :-)

After testing today, we learned about Roald Dahl, the author of Matilda, by reading his web's a cool site. Then we kicked off our study of fantasy as a literary genre by reading the first couple of chapters of Matilda.

Then the children went to lunch and recess.

Following recess, we switched for math. In math, we practiced identifying fractions of a set (ex. draw 9 triangles and circle 1/3 of them) and we compared fractions using <, >, and =. For homework the children need to complete the worksheet we began in class.

We ended the day with social studies. We used our homework assignments from last night to begin creating timelines.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Quick homework update

No math homework but there is social studies homework for each child in my homeroom...they are to complete their "changes in my lifetime" chart that they began in class AND get dates (approximate...month and year, preferably) for each event.

Day 1 of MSA: Reading 1 of MSA testing is in the books and we came out of it unscathed! The children worked hard and put effort into their work. I am proud of each and every one of only concern is that some of them were way too to your children about my belief in each and every one of them...I know they will do well!

Following testing, we talked, briefly, about fantasy as a literary genre. Literature categorized as fantasy involves magic and/or supernatural powers as a primary ingredient of the plot and/or setting. I will begin reading Matilda, by Roald Dahl, aloud to the class, as an example of a fantasy novel.

After lunch and outdoor recess, we changed classes for math. In math we worked on equivalent fractions and comparing fractions. We also watched a video on division since this area caused some concerns during our warm up.

We will end the day with a discussion about how things have changed in the student's lives, since their birth. If time allows, I will also begin reading Matilda.

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